Characterizing Treatment Utilization Patterns for Trigeminal Neuralgia in the United States

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Abstract

Background and Aim:

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a rare orofacial disorder characterized by severe unilateral paroxysmal pain in the region of the fifth cranial nerve. Clinical guidelines recommend carbamazepine (only US Food and Drug Administration–approved drug for TN) and oxcarbazepine as first-line therapies. We utilized the US Truven Health MarketScan database to examine treatment patterns among patients with TN.

Methods:

Included patients were aged 18 years and above, newly diagnosed with TN (≥2 TN diagnoses ≥14 days apart; no diagnosis in the previous year), continuously enrolled 1 year before index, with ≥3 years’ follow-up postindex. We assessed utilization of selected pharmacotherapies (carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, pregabalin, gabapentin, baclofen, duloxetine, topiramate), surgery (posterior fossa, radiosurgery), and injections (peripheral anesthetic injections, Gasserian ganglion procedures) for TN.

Results:

In total, 3685 patients were included (2425 commercial, 1260 Medicare; 71.8% female; age, mean [SD], 59 [15] y). Overall, 72.5% of patients received at least 1 studied medication, most commonly carbamazepine (51.7%) or gabapentin (48.6%). In total, 65% of pharmacologically treated patients had ≥2 treatment episodes; 41.6% had ≥3 (defined by a change in pharmacotherapy [monotherapy/combination] regimen). Overall, 12.3% had surgery and 7.3% injections; 42.9% received opioids for TN.

Conclusions:

In the 3 years after diagnosis, patients with TN in the United States receive a variety of pharmacological treatments, including opioids, despite carbamazepine being the only approved medication. A notable proportion utilize surgeries/injections. A high proportion of pharmacologically treated patients receive multiple treatment episodes, suggesting frequent therapy switching, perhaps because of suboptimal efficacy/tolerability. Our data suggest a high burden of illness associated with TN.

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