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Letter supporting right to same medication
A leading neurologist is urging people to check they are always prescribed the same epilepsy drugs or they could be at risk of a breakthrough seizure.
Professor Ley Sander, medical director of Epilepsy Society, has written a letter for people to take to their health professionals, explaining how critical it is for them to keep to the same version of their anti-epileptic drug (AED) – unless a change is advised for medical reasons.
Switching between branded and generic drugs
Worried callers to Epilepsy Society’s helpline have voiced concerns that the government’s cost cutting plans to switch from prescribing branded drugs to cheaper generic drugs or switching between generic versions of the same drug, could result in harmful unexpected seizures, called breakthrough seizures.
These can wreak havoc for people with previously controlled epilepsy, affecting the capability to drive, employment, ability to support a family and quality of life.
Emergency hospital visits
The annual cost of AEDs to the NHS is less than one per cent of the total budget for drugs. Although prescribing generic drugs reduces expenditure on medication, it could also result in hidden costs such as emergency visits to hospital and extra clinic appointments.
Although generic drugs are supposed to be identical to the branded equivalent, small differences in the bioavailability of the active ingredient occur. For some people, even the slightest changes can result in seizures which impact on life and can be life-threatening.
The government is aware that for conditions like epilepsy, generic substitution is inappropriate. But people who depend on a certain medication to keep them safe still feel exposed and want all epilepsy drugs to be exempt from the regulations.
Graham Faulkner, Epilepsy Society’s chief executive, said: ‘We hope this letter gives patients the power they need to challenge pharmacists who try to substitute a named drug on a prescription with a generic alternative. It also gives patients the licence to ask their GP to make it clear on the prescription the name of the drug that they have been taking to date.’
Letter to your healthcare professional
Author: Angie King