Antiepileptic drugs as ‘tracers’ of disease: A calculation of the prevalence of epilepsy through an analysis of drug consumption

Ettore Beghi, Maria Luisa Monticelli, Giancarlo Monza, Aurelio Sessa, Michele Zarrelli, Francesco Apollo, Rossana Castiglia, Pietro Di Viesti, Alberta Franza, Michele Germano, Mauro PorTa, Pasqualino Simone, Pietro Tonali, Michele Accadia, Ambrogio Baj, Pras Sede Beduschi, Michele Bonfuto, Matteo Capuano, Paolo Cascavilla, Raffaele CeraSilvestro Cervone, Giorgio Ciancetti, Arcangela Ciavarella, Matteo Dan-Za, Angelo Delle Vergini, Vincenzo Di Maggio, Maria Ercolino, Leonardo Fania, M. Loreta Fini, Teodoro Gandini, Armando Gismondi, Giorgio Grifa, Giovanni Grifa, Michele Leggieri, Maurizio Magnoni, Gaetano Martino, Mario Masull, Marziano Mazzoleni, AnTonio Melchiond, Vera Mingoni, Grazia Molenda, Michele Momesano, Maria Morelli, Emanuele Motta, Roberto Nardi, Claudio Orsini, Roberto Pericoli, Sil Vano Pisani, Francesco Plancetino, Nazario Pomella, Daniele Ponti, Sauro Rigamonti, Mario Ritrovato, Pas Quale Sampaolo, Gianni Sangaletti, Francesco P. Sca-Rano, Vincenzo Spada, Giulio Taramelli, Leonardo Trotta, Maria G. Venosta, Giovanni Villani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Antiepileptic drug (AED) consumption, expressed according to a standardized measurement of the average daily doses of each active principle (the defined daily dose, DDD), was assessed as a source of morbidity data to calculate the prevalence of AED takers. In a population of 51, 220 from three areas in Italy (Arcisate, Treviglio, S. Giovanni Roton-do) all the patients treated with AEDs, traced by the local general practitioners, were examined by a neurologist. The diagnosis of epilepsy was confirmed in 199 of 223 AED takers, giving an overall prevalence rate of 3.94 per 1, 000 (Arcisate 3.96; Treviglio 4.04; S. Giovanni Rotondo 3.89). There was a significant overlap between the observed and expected number of AED takers (the latter obtained from regional sales and expressed in DDD). Prevalence rates calculated from drug sales were 5.58 in Arcisate and 6.11 in Treviglio. The ratio of patients with epilepsy to AED takers in the two areas was 0.7 and corresponded to the mean proportion of AEDs prescribed for epilepsy in the years 1983-1988 by a sample of Italian physicians. Although the prevalence rate calculated from AED sales tends to approximate that of treated epilepsy, AEDs can be reasonably used as ’tracers’ of disease for the easy access to drug sales in Italy, the appropriateness of the DDD as a standard measure of the daily doses of AED, the steady pattern of consumption, the comparability of data covering different areas and periods, and the stable proportion of drugs delivered for epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • Drug treatment
  • Epidemiology
  • Epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Antiepileptic drugs as ‘tracers’ of disease: A calculation of the prevalence of epilepsy through an analysis of drug consumption'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this