The costs of epilepsy in Italy: A prospective cost-of-illness study in referral patients with disease of different severity

A. Tetto, P. Manzoni, A. Millul, Ettore Beghi, L. Garattini, A. Tartara, G. Avanzini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Epilepsy poses a considerable economic burden on society. However, information is insufficient on the comparative costs of different disease varieties. The purpose of this study was to compare the direct costs of epilepsy in referral patients with disease of different severity and duration. Methods: Patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy (NDE), seizure remission (SR), occasional seizures (OS), frequent non-drug-resistant (NDR) and drug-resistant (DR) seizures, and surgical candidates (SC) from 14 epilepsy centers were the target population. All patients were followed prospectively for 12 months and all medical and paramedical contacts for diagnostic and therapeutic services were noted with details, using ad-hoc diaries and semistructured questionnaires. Results: The study population comprised 525 consecutive children and adults with partial (68%), generalized (25%) and undetermined epilepsy (4%) as follows: NDE 70; SR 131; OS 108; NDR 101; DR 107; SC 8. Ambulatory visits (mean 2.8 per patient per year) were the leading service in all groups, followed by EEG recordings (1.8) and biochemical assays (1.1). At entry, the commonest drugs were carbamazepine (50%), valproate (37%), phenobarbital (21%), vigabatrin (14%) and lamotrigine (11%). New antiepileptic drugs (AED) were used increasingly with the severity of the disease. The total annual costs varied significantly across groups: 3945 Euro (SC), 2198 Euro (DR), 1626 Euro (NDR), 1002 Euro (NDE), 558 Euro (OS), 412 Euro (SR). The main item of expenditure was hospital stay (including day-hospital), followed by drug treatment and outpatient visits. The costs of outpatient services, hospital services and drugs varied significantly across groups. Conclusions: The direct costs of epilepsy vary significantly depending on the severity of the disease and the response to treatment. Hospital admissions and drugs are the commonest items of expenditure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-216
Number of pages10
JournalEpilepsy Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Costs
  • Diagnosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology


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