Levetiracetam and zonisamide are licensed as monotherapy for patients with focal epilepsy, but there is uncertainty as to whether they should be recommended as first-line treatments because of insufficient evidence of clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. We aimed to assess the long-term clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of levetiracetam and zonisamide compared with lamotrigine in people with newly diagnosed focal epilepsy.
This randomised, open-label, controlled trial compared levetiracetam and zonisamide with lamotrigine as first-line treatment for patients with newly diagnosed focal epilepsy. Adult and paediatric neurology services across the UK recruited participants aged 5 years or older (with no upper age limit) with two or more unprovoked focal seizures. Participants were randomly allocated (1:1:1) using a minimisation programme with a random element utilising factor to receive lamotrigine, levetiracetam, or zonisamide. Participants and investigators were not masked and were aware of treatment allocation. SANAD II was designed to assess non-inferiority of both levetiracetam and zonisamide to lamotrigine for the primary outcome of time to 12-month remission. Anti-seizure medications were taken orally and for participants aged 12 years or older the initial advised maintenance doses were lamotrigine 50 mg (morning) and 100 mg (evening), levetiracetam 500 mg twice per day, and zonisamide 100 mg twice per day. For children aged between 5 and 12 years the initial daily maintenance doses advised were lamotrigine 1·5 mg/kg twice per day, levetiracetam 20 mg/kg twice per day, and zonisamide 2·5 mg/kg twice per day. All participants were included in the intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis. The per-protocol (PP) analysis excluded participants with major protocol deviations and those who were subsequently diagnosed as not having epilepsy. Safety analysis included all participants who received one dose of any study drug. The non-inferiority limit was a hazard ratio (HR) of 1·329, which equates to an absolute difference of 10%. A HR greater than 1 indicated that an event was more likely on lamotrigine. The trial is registered with the ISRCTN registry, 30294119 (EudraCt number: 2012-001884-64).
990 participants were recruited between May 2, 2013, and June 20, 2017, and followed up for a further 2 years. Patients were randomly assigned to receive lamotrigine (n=330), levetiracetam (n=332), or zonisamide (n=328). The ITT analysis included all participants and the PP analysis included 324 participants randomly assigned to lamotrigine, 320 participants randomly assigned to levetiracetam, and 315 participants randomly assigned to zonisamide. Levetiracetam did not meet the criteria for non-inferiority in the ITT analysis of time to 12-month remission versus lamotrigine (HR 1·18; 97·5% CI 0·95-1·47) but zonisamide did meet the criteria for non-inferiority in the ITT analysis versus lamotrigine (1·03; 0·83-1·28). The PP analysis showed that 12-month remission was superior with lamotrigine than both levetiracetam (HR 1·32 [97·5% CI 1·05 to 1·66]) and zonisamide (HR 1·37 [1·08-1·73]). There were 37 deaths during the trial. Adverse reactions were reported by 108 (33%) participants who started lamotrigine, 144 (44%) participants who started levetiracetam, and 146 (45%) participants who started zonisamide. Lamotrigine was superior in the cost-utility analysis, with a higher net health benefit of 1·403 QALYs (97·5% central range 1·319-1·458) compared with 1·222 (1·110-1·283) for levetiracetam and 1·232 (1·112, 1·307) for zonisamide at a cost-effectiveness threshold of £20 000 per QALY. Cost-effectiveness was based on differences between treatment groups in costs and QALYs.
These findings do not support the use of levetiracetam or zonisamide as first-line treatments for patients with focal epilepsy. Lamotrigine should remain a first-line treatment for patients with focal epilepsy and should be the standard treatment in future trials.
National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme.

Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY 4.0 license. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.