Antiepileptic medicines data

OIA response

Request dated 19 March 2019 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA)  relating to females  on antiepileptic medicines.

16 April 2019

[Name and contact details redacted]

Dear [Name redacted]


Thank you for your request dated 19 March 2019 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA).  You asked for:

  1. How many females are on antiepileptic medicines from 2018 – current date
  2. Categorise the medicine and the number of females for each antiepileptic medicine into a 5-year age band.
  3. State the reason for medicine prescription e.g. epilepsy, mental health condition, pain management, for each category.

The information that you have requested is set out in the spreadsheet attached [XLSX, 18 KB]. The data provided is for the 2018 calendar year. We have not provided data for 2019 because we do not yet have all of the claims data from pharmacies, therefore the information provided would be incomplete.

In answering your question, we have provided the number of females for each medication listed in the Control of Epilepsy therapeutic subgroup in the Pharmaceutical Schedule.

Please note that:

  • patients taking more than one medication are counted for each medication they take
  • this data only relates to claims through retail pharmacies for public subsidy
  • to protect patient privacy, we have combined all age groups above 100.

You also asked about the reason for each medicine prescription. While we have access to information on the number of subsided dispensings in the community, we do not hold information on prescribing. Stiripentol, lacosamide, vigabatrin and gabapentin are subsidised under Special Authority (please note that the Special Authority criteria for gabapentin was removed from 1 August 2018), which means that the patient would need to meet certain clinical criteria to be eligible for subsidy. I have included a table below summarising the subsidy criteria for stiripentol, lacosamide, vigabatrin and gabapentin.

Chemical Name

Subsidy criteria


Treatment of Dravet Syndrome.


Treatment of partial-onset epilepsy.


Treatment of infantile spasms or epilepsy


Subsidy criteria before 1 August 2018: treatment of epilepsy and neuropathic pain or kidney disease associated pruritus. We have provided a breakdown of the numbers based on Special Authority approval for gabapentin (see attached spreadsheet).

Subsidy criteria from 1 August 2018: not subsidised in combination with subsidised pregabalin.

Please note that the Special Authority criteria for gabapentin was removed from 1 August 2018. This means that we do not know what gabapentin is prescribed for after this date.

All other medicines in spreadsheet

Subsidised without funding restrictions for indication. This means we do not know what they are being prescribed for.

To the extent we have not fully provided the information you have requested this is because we do not hold the information as explained above.  This is covered by section 18(g) of the OIA which permits partial refusal where we do not hold the information and do not have grounds for believing any other agency holds it.  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.

We trust that the provision of this information answers your queries.  If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us again.

Yours sincerely

[Alison Hill's signature]

Alison Hill
Director, Engagement and Implementation