Warning on new law on epilepsy drugs

The Epilepsy Ireland support group has reiterated its call for the Government to change forthcoming legislation aimed at increasing the amount of cheaper generic drugs prescribed in Ireland.

It has urged that anti-epilepsy drugs be excluded from the list of branded drugs which can be substituted by pharmacists for generic brands once the legislation is passed.

It has warned that allowing for generic substitution of epilepsy medication could have 'catastrophic effects'.

Epilepsy Ireland, in a submission to the Oireachtas Health Committee, said unlike the vast majority of medications used to treat other illnesses, any variation in the manufacture and composition of a tablet introduces a factor that can result in 'breakthrough' seizures for people with epilepsy, which can be avoided if the particular medication specified by the doctor is dispensed.

The group says as things stand, finding not only the right medication but also the right dosage is a matter of expert skill and a degree of 'trial and error'. Specialists will increase the dosage slowly over time so the right level is attained and the correct dosage will vary for each patient.

Epilspsy Ireland said introducing a generic that could vary significantly from the original branded medicine, and especially, other generics of the same origin, can introduce a factor that can undo years of work in stabilising a person's seizures.

It says treatment guidelines in other countries discourage switching of branded epilepsy drug for generics.

Epilspsy Ireland added that there was no risk of the 'floodgates' being opened if epilepsy drugs were exempted from generic substitution rules, with exemptions for other drugs then being sought.

It said no other patient group was seeking an exclusion for any other range of drugs.


[Posted: Mon 18/03/2013]

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