Objectives: Epilepsy management in elderly patients is often complex because of several concomitant comorbidities that may limit the use of some antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Levetiracetam (LEV) is a second-generation AED widely used in elderly patients with epilepsy while lacosamide (LCM), which has been recently approved in the European Union (EU) as monotherapy for the treatment of focal onset seizures, is affected by a scarcity of data in such frail population. This study is aimed at assessing the efficacy and the tolerability of LCM as monotherapy in elderly patients affected by focal onset epilepsy compared with those receiving LEV.
Methods: A retrospective chart review of patients aged 65 years or older suffering from focal onset seizures, with or without secondary generalization on LCM monotherapy or LEV monotherapy, was performed. Data regarding demographic characteristics, seizure type and etiology, LCM and LEV daily dose, number of lifetime AEDs, seizure frequency at baseline and at 12 months of follow-up, and seizure freedom rates were reported.
Results: In this observational retrospective study, 22 patients on LCM (10 males, 12 females, mean age: 76.23 ± 7.5) and 24 patients on LEV (10 males, 14 females, mean age: 73.58 ± 6.39) were enrolled. Mean LCM daily dose was 204.51 ± 88.51 mg and mean LEV daily dose was 1281.25 ± 378.15 mg. All patients had comorbidities on chronic treatment. At 12 months of follow-up, mean monthly seizure frequency reduced from 4.23 ± 8.53 to 0.33 ± 0.9 (p < .001) in LCM group and from 2.29 ± 6.11 to 0.2 ± 0.81 (p < .001) in LEV group. Furthermore, 16/22 (72.7%) LCM patients were seizure-free at 12 months of follow-up while seizure freedom was achieved by 17/24 (70.8%) patients in LEV group.
Discussion and conclusion: Epilepsy management in elderly patients is often challenging. In this retrospective real-life study, the efficacy and the tolerability of lacosamide as monotherapy was favorable even at low doses in older patients and comparable with levetiracetam with a high rate of long-term seizure freedom. Considering the frequent comorbidities and the risk of drug–drug interactions, levetiracetam monotherapy may be a valuable option in elderly patients with focal onset epilepsy because of its favorable pharmacokinetic profile.