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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2004 Dec;60(10):751-8. Epub 2004 Nov 20.

Diffusion of the new antiepileptic drug lamotrigine in Dutch clinical practice.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University Medical Centre Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Lamotrigine is one of the recently introduced antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) licensed in the Netherlands in 1995. The objective of this study was to examine the diffusion of lamotrigine into clinical practice. Three different aspects of this diffusion process were examined: incidence of use, patient characteristics and changes in prescription patterns in the first 5 years following its introduction.


A retrospective follow-up study has been conducted using drug prescription data from the database of the Dutch Drug Information Project (GIP database). Patients were included who started with lamotrigine, carbamazepine, phenytoin or valproate in the period between January 1996 and December 2000. Incidence of use was calculated for the four drugs. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to determine differences in baseline characteristics. The Chi-square test was used to analyse changes in the usage patterns of lamotrigine.


The study population consisted of a total of 29,718 patients who were prescribed carbamazepine, phenytoin, valproate or lamotrigine for the first time in the study period. Carbamazepine and valproate accounted for the majority of all new prescriptions; the incidence of lamotrigine use remained stable with 4.4 patients per 100,000 per year. Baseline characteristics of lamotrigine differed depending on the patient's age and gender (OR 3.7, 95% CI 3.3-4.2; OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.3-1.5) relative to the conventional AEDs. In a large majority of cases, lamotrigine was used as a second-line or third-line AED. Physicians prescribing lamotrigine were predominantly neurologists, in contrast to prescribers of conventional AEDs. The prevalence of psychotropic medication and migraine-abortive drugs was significantly lower in users of lamotrigine than in users of conventional AEDs. During follow-up, several significant trends were noticed in the prescribing of lamotrigine with regard to age groups, gender, antiepileptic history and off-label use.


Lamotrigine is prescribed to a population different from that using conventional AEDs. The uptake of lamotrigine in clinical practice is slow, for reasons probably related to characteristics of the drug itself and the prescribers. During the observation period, lamotrigine diffused gradually towards more first-line use as an AED and more off-label use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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