Anti-epileptic medicines

OIA response

Data on the number of females prescribed various epilepsy medicines.

17 March 2020 

[Names and contact details redacted] 

Dear [Redacted] 


Thank you for your email of 3 February 2020.  You have asked for data on anti-epileptic medicines, specifically:

  • How many females are on anti-epileptic medicines from 2019 to the current date
  • Categorise the medicine and the amount of females for each anti-epileptic medicine into 5 year age bands
  • State their ethnicity
  • State the reason for the medicine’s prescription eg epilepsy, mental health condition, pain management, for each age category. 

On 11 February 2020, you confirmed that the above data request applied to each of the following anti-epileptics:

  • Clonazepam
  • Phenobarbitone
  • Sodium valproate
  • Vigabatrin
  • Carbamazepine
  • Topiramate
  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Lacosamide
  • Ethosuximide
  • Primidone
  • Gabapentin
  • Lamotrigine
  • Lorazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Phenytoin
  • Clobazam
  • Levetiracetam
  • Pregabalin
  • Medicinal cannabis

The information held by PHARMAC relevant to your request is attached as Appendix One.  This is data for dispensed pharmaceuticals that PHARMAC currently funds, for the period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019.  Please note the following limitations on the data we have provided: 

  • PHARMAC’s data cannot be extrapolated to identify the health condition that is associated with the prescription of the pharmaceutical, therefore we are unable to further refine the data in Appendix One by its use.
  • Oxcarbazepine and medicinal cannabis are not currently funded by PHARMAC, therefore we hold no data about dispensings for them.  

Your request for this information has been considered under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA).  Please note that PHARMAC approaches its assessment of requests for information under the OIA on the basis that, once released, the information becomes publicly available – in other words once we release the information to you it becomes available to any other party in the exact form (whether by you distributing it to others or by virtue of us receiving the same request from a different third party).  To protect the privacy of natural persons (section 9(2)(a) of the Act), all patient numbers below ten in Appendix One are withheld and have been replaced by an indicator of less than ten (<10) patients.   We have however, provided for each age bracket a total number of patients by ethnicity group for each of the pharmaceuticals. 

As required under the OIA, we also considered whether, in the circumstances, the withholding of this information was outweighed by other considerations which render it desirable, in the public interest, to make this information available.  In this case we did not consider that the public interest outweighed the reasons for withholding the information.  Please note you have the right, by way of complaint under section 28(3) of the OIA to an Ombudsman, to seek an investigation and review of our decision to withhold this information. 

We trust that this information answers your queries.  We are making our information more freely available, so we will now publish selected OIA responses (excluding personal details) on our website.  Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about this. 

> Download the attachment with the data [PDF, 11 MB]

Yours sincerely

Rachel Read
Manager, Policy