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Neurology. 2008 Nov 11;71(20):1572-8. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000319693.10338.b9. Epub 2008 Jun 18.

Nonadherence to antiepileptic drugs and increased mortality: findings from the RANSOM Study.

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  • 1UAB Epilepsy Center, Civitan International Research Center 312, 1719 6th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.



The primary objective was to investigate whether nonadherence to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) is associated with increased mortality and the secondary objective to examine whether nonadherence increases the risk of serious clinical events, including emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, motor vehicle accident (MVA) injuries, fractures, and head injuries.


A retrospective open-cohort design was employed using Medicaid claims data from Florida, Iowa, and New Jersey from January 1997 through June 2006. Patients aged > or =18 years with > or =1 diagnosis of epilepsy by a neurologist and > or =2 AED pharmacy dispensings were selected. Medication possession ratio (MPR) was used to evaluate AED adherence on a quarterly basis with MPR > or =0.80 considered adherent and <0.80 nonadherent. The association of nonadherence with mortality was assessed using a time-varying Cox regression model adjusting for demographic and clinical confounders. Incidence rates for serious clinical events were compared between adherent and nonadherent quarters using incidence rate ratios (IRRs) with 95% CIs calculated based on the Poisson distribution.


The 33,658 study patients contributed 388,564 AED-treated quarters (26% nonadherent). Nonadherence was associated with an over threefold increased risk of mortality compared to adherence (hazard ratio = 3.32, 95% CI = 3.11-3.54) after multivariate adjustments. Time periods of nonadherence were also associated with a significantly higher incidence of ED visits (IRR = 1.50, 95% CI = 1.49-1.52), hospital admissions (IRR = 1.86, 95% CI = 1.84-1.88), MVA injuries (IRR = 2.08, 95% CI = 1.81-2.39), and fractures (IRR = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.18-1.23) than periods of adherence.


These findings suggest that nonadherence to antiepileptic drugs can have serious or fatal consequences for patients with epilepsy.

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