Volume and market share of anti-epileptic drugs in the Netherlands: impact of new drugs
Objective: In the past decade, several new anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) were introduced in the Netherlands. These new drugs, one of which is lamotrigine, are 6 to 10 times more expensive than conventional anti-convulsants. In 1997, the high cost of lamotrigine, together with a lack of clinical data supporting its superiority over conventional drugs, prompted the Dutch Health Insurance Board to release a guideline in which the use of lamotrigine was restricted to difficult-to-treat patients. Other new drugs that were marketed after 1997 also became subject to this guideline. The utilisation of new AEDs and the cost consequences are the subject of this paper.
Methods: Data from extramurally prescribed AEDs was obtained from the Dutch Drug Information Project, which is a database containing prescriptions for about 5.5 million inhabitants of the Netherlands. This data was used to study the impact of new AEDs on volume and market share of AEDs in the period from 1995 to 2001 in the Netherlands.
Results: Between 1995 and 2001, the total volume of AEDs increased by 130%, 60% of which consisted of new AEDs. Gabapentin, lamotrigine and oxcarbazepine were the most frequently prescribed new compounds. The volume share of new AEDs increased from 5% in 1995 to 18% in 2001. The market share amounted to 21.5 million euros in 1995 and rose to 47 million euros in 2001; 80% of this increase was due to the introduction of new AEDs.
Discussion: Although in 2001 the volume share of new AEDs was still modest, their introduction has led to a strong increase in the cost. New data is emerging on the effectiveness and cost-benefit sum of the new AEDs; this may change the place in therapy of these drugs. Because of their strong potential to force up cost, the positioning of new AEDs requires further attention.
KeywordsAntiepileptic drugs ATC-DDD system Drug utilisation Pharmacoepidemiology Pharmacoeconomics The Netherlands
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