The Department of Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine and UCB, a global biopharmaceutical company with a focus on epilepsy treatment and research, have announced results of the first assessment of epilepsy prevalence and incidence in the U.S. based on a large-scale analysis of insurance claims data. These results are being presented at the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Epilepsy Society (AES) in Seattle, Washington (December 5th - 9th).

Key points:

  • Estimates of epilepsy prevalence and incidence have historically been based on limited data from potentially unrepresentative localities and patient populations.
  • As part of a research collaboration between UCB and the Emory University Department of Neurology, researchers conducted an extensive and representative analysis of insurance claims data representing more than 20 million enrollees of all ages from across the U.S.
    • The retrospective observational analysis used Commercial Claims and Medicare (CC&M) Supplemental and Medicaid insurance claims data from 2007 to 2011.
    • Epilepsy cases were identified through ICD-9-CM-coded diagnoses of epilepsy or seizures, as well as evidence of prescribed antiepileptic drugs.
  • Results showed that the overall age-adjusted prevalence estimate, combining weighted estimates from all data sets, is 8.4 cases of epilepsy per 1,000 population.
  • The results also showed that the overall age-adjusted incidence estimate, combining weighted estimates from data sets, is 79.1 per 100,000 population.
    • These weighted estimates found substantially higher rates of epilepsy incidence among persons <5 or >60 years of age.
  • The age-adjusted prevalence and incidence estimates for Medicaid patients were significantly higher than those of the CC&M group, respectively.
  • Overall, UCB and Emory researchers were able to derive a weighted, age-adjusted estimate of epilepsy prevalence that is within the range of other estimates published from developed countries.
  • The combined weighted age-adjusted estimate of annual epilepsy incidence derived from the analysis is distinctly higher than the median estimate obtained by an evidence-based review of population-based incidence studies, but shows a distribution similar to those of many other studies.


Sandra Helmers, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at Emory University:

  • "Many people would be surprised to learn that epilepsy prevalence statistics in the U.S. were last updated in the mid-1990s.1 By conducting the largest analysis of epilepsy prevalence to date, we now have data that can inform meaningful public health interventions to better address the burden of epilepsy on individual patients and families across the country."
  • "Epilepsy's unpredictable nature presents particular challenges for both patients and physicians. Accurately quantifying the prevalence of epilepsy on a national level is critical to helping ensure optimal public health support for people living with the disease. These results are an important first step because they help inform a nationally projectable prevalence estimate."

Patty Fritz, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, UCB:

  • "UCB has a longstanding heritage in epilepsy, and we are continuously looking for opportunities to improve patient care. Our innovative, hands-on collaboration with Emory reflects this commitment by leveraging real-world data to generate research that enhances our understanding of epilepsy and how many patients it impacts."
  • "Both the Institute of Medicine and the epilepsy community have been calling for more rigorously documented epidemiological data, and this initial output of UCB's collaboration with Emory is an important first step. We hope that these results and future outputs of our collaboration ultimately contribute to improved patient care."