Purpose: To evaluate the current trends and factors associated with the first anti-seizure medications (ASMs) prescribed for epilepsy in Taiwan. Methods: Data for patients with epilepsy were collected from the National Health Insurance Research Database, a population-based claims database. We selected patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy from 2013 to 2016. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the factors associated with the selection of newer ASMs for the first prescription. Results: A total of 73,891 patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy were eligible for the study, and the annual incidence was approximately 0.79 per 1,000 people. The five ASMs most prescribed for monotherapy were valproic acid, phenytoin, levetiracetam, gabapentin, and oxcarbazepine, accounting for nearly 90% of all ASMs. Valproic acid was the most-prescribed ASM (more than 30%), and levetiracetam has replaced phenytoin as the second choice since 2015. Factors associated with the selection of newer ASMs for the first prescription were patients’ year of diagnosis, gender, socioeconomic level, and previous or existing comorbidities and the profiles of the care providers (accreditation level, service volume, geographic location, and degree of urbanization of the surrounding area). Conclusion: The data indicated that the trends in ASMs first prescribed for patients in Taiwan accorded with most of the international epilepsy treatment guidelines. However, there were some differences between our results and those in developed countries. In addition, we observed a large urban-rural disparity in the administration of ASMs.
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