Objective To compare the effectiveness of levetiracetam (LEV) with extended-release sodium valproate (VPA-ER) and controlled-release carbamazepine (CBZ-CR) as monotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy. Methods This unblinded, randomised, 52-week superiority trial (NCT00175903) recruited patients (16years of age) with 2 unprovoked seizures in the previous 2years and 1 in the previous 6months. The physician chose VPA or CBZ as preferred standard treatment; each patient was randomised to standard treatment or LEV. The primary outcome was time to treatment withdrawal (LEV vs standard antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)). Analyses also compared LEV with VPA-ER, and LEV with CBZ-CR. Findings 1688 patients (mean age 41years; 44% female) were randomised to LEV (n=841) or standard AEDs (n=847). Time to treatment withdrawal was not significantly different between LEV and standard AEDs: HR (95% CI) 0.90 (0.74 to 1.08). Time to treatment withdrawal (HR (95% CI)) was 1.02 (0.74 to 1.41) for LEV/VPA-ER and 0.84 (0.66 to 1.07) for LEV/CBZ-CR. Time to first seizure (HR, 95% CI) was significantly longer for standard AEDs, 1.20 (1.03 to 1.39), being 1.19 (0.93 to 1.54) for LEV/VPA-ER and 1.20 (0.99 to 1.46) for LEV/CBZ-CR. Estimated 12-month seizure freedom rates from randomisation: 58.7% LEV versus 64.5% VPA-ER; 50.5% LEV versus 56.7% CBZ-CR. Similar proportions of patients within each stratum reported at least one adverse event: 66.1% LEV versus 62.0% VPA-ER; 73.4% LEV versus 72.5% CBZ-CR. Conclusions LEV monotherapy was not superior to standard AEDs for the global outcome, namely time to treatment withdrawal, in patients with newly diagnosed focal or generalised seizures.
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