Trends in Antiepileptic Drug Prescriptions for Childhood Epilepsy at a Tertiary Children's Hospital in Korea, 2001-2012

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Longitudinal prescription patterns of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) have not been described to date in Korea. Here we aimed to describe AED prescribing trends over a 12-year period and assess age differences in AED prescribing patterns in a pediatric epilepsy population.


We retrieved and analyzed all AED prescribing and dispensing data in 2001-2012 in patients aged 0-18 years with an established diagnosis of epilepsy at the largest tertiary children's hospital in Korea. AEDs included for analysis were classified as older (i.e., carbamazepine, ethosuximide, phenobarbital, phenytoin, and valproic acid) and newer (i.e., gabapentin, lamotrigine, levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine, pregabalin, topiramate, vigabatrin, zonisamide, lacosamide, and rufinamide) on the basis of market availability before versus after 1991.


A total of 5593 patients with epilepsy were prescribed an AED during the 12-year period. The proportion of newer AED prescriptions was 52.6 % in 2001 and continuously increased to 74.3 % in 2012. Oxcarbazepine was most widely used, followed by valproic acid. While carbamazepine and vigabatrin use progressively decreased over the 12-year period, those of lamotrigine and topiramate rapidly increased. Age differences in prescribing patterns were observed. Polytherapy was observed in 49.7 % of the total population, while 83.9 % of new users were prescribed monotherapy.


This study provided updated information on AED prescription trends for childhood epilepsy. We found a progressive increase in the use of newer AEDs. However, valproic acid, the only prevalent older AED, continued to be widely prescribed. A high rate of polytherapy among the prescriptions overall raises some safety concerns.

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