Actors team up to warn against switching anti-seizure medications

posted on:
June 16, 2010

author:
JENNIFER WALKER-JOURNEY

TalkAboutIt.org, a website created by Heroes star Greg Grunberg in association with the Epilepsy Foundation to educate people about the seizure disorder, has launched a new campaign warning that medication switching can be dangerous especially to people who take medication for epilepsy.

Grunberg created the star-studded site after his son Jake was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 7. Appalled by the way society treated people with seizure disorders, Grunberg went on a mission to raise awareness about epilepsy, encouraging people to “talk about it.” The site’s new platforms, called “Know Your Options” and “Switching Medication,” feature Grunberg and House, MD star Jesse Spencer.

Spencer’s message focuses on the importance of prescription protection. He urges people to take an active role in preventing medication switching by making sure they bring home from the pharmacy the medication their doctor prescribed, looking at the medicine, and speaking up if they have any questions. His pitch is followed by a video in which Grunberg says when he went to get his son’s anti-seizure prescription filled he was given a generic instead. Shortly thereafter, his son began having seizures again. Dr. Brien J. Smith of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit reported in the video that one out of 10 epilepsy patients who are switched to a generic version of the same medication will suffer complications such as a reoccurrence of seizures.

Just last year, generic versions of the brand-name anti-seizure medication Keppra were made available in the United States. Many insurance companies instructed pharmacists to substitute these generics for the more expensive brand name Keppra. Many epileptics whose seizure disorders were controlled by brand-name Keppra found that their symptoms returned when they were switched to the generic.

 “We have strongly urged the Food and Drug Administration to inform patients and their doctors about the possible dangers of medication switching. We’re calling on the FDA to do more research into this matter and to develop a standard that ensures equivalency and safety for all patients,” said Eric R. Hargis, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. “We are elated that Greg is continuing his role as an outstanding advocate for our community and sharing this important message.” 

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