John Libbey Eurotext

The choice of antiepileptic drugs in newly diagnosed epilepsy: a national French survey Volume 6, issue 4, December 2004


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Neurology Department, Hôpital Sainte-Anne, Paris and Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot, CEA, Orsay, Clinical and Epidemiological Research Unit, Hôpital Arnaud de Villeneuve, Montpellier, Clinical Neurophysiology Department, Lille, Epileptology Unit, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière and Inserm Unit 224, Paris, Epilepsy Unit, Neurology Department, Grenoble, Neurology Department, Hôpitaux Civil, Strasbourg, Neurology Department, Hôpital Pellegrin, Bordeaux, EEG and Epileptology Unit, Neurology Department, Hôpital Pasteur, Nice, Functional Neurology and Epileptology Department, Hôpital Neurologique, Lyon, France

The choice of an antiepileptic drug (AED) in patients with epilepsy is mainly based on efficacy and safety of each drug. However, these criteria of drug selection should be further evaluated according to the epileptic syndromes, and adjusted to the sex and age of the patient. Unfortunately, very few studies have been conducted based on these latter criteria. We conducted a survey on the management of epilepsy treatment in adults. This survey was undertaken in France, and led to the establishment of a French consensus on antiepileptic drug treatment in adult patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy. Patients were grouped into 18 categories according to the epileptic syndrome (absence epilepsy, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, undetermined idiopathic generalized epilepsy, symptomatic or cryptogenic partial epilepsy and unclassified epilepsy), and to the patient’s gender and age. Our survey suggests that there is a consensus among French epileptologists for the choice of AEDs, mainly based on the epilepsy syndrome. Gender also plays a crucial role. Sodium valproate and lamotrigine are the two drugs of choice for generalized epilepsies, as well as for undetermined epilepsies. Lamotrigine is often prefered for women of childbearing age. First line AEDs in partial epilepsy are carbamazepine (particularly for men), lamotrigine (particularly for women), and gabapentin (in the elderly). In cases of failure and/or intolerance to one of these AED, the principal alternatives are oxcarbazepine, sodium valproate and topiramate.