From the Houston Chronicle, People’s Pharmacy, March 7, 2010

“Generic medications problematic for some”

Q: I am a midlevel prescriber (a clinical nurse specialist) who has submitted 37 adverse-event reports to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch program regarding generic lamotrigine.

Most of the adverse events involved a loss of response, but many involved a loss of response and additional side effects that did not occur with brand-name Lamictal. The FDA has acknowledged receiving my reports, but it has not investigated them. When a generic for Lamictal first came on the market, I was enthusiastic, since I knew my patients would be paying less. But after so many patients had serious relapses of their mood disorders with several generic lamotrigine formulations, I am no longer enthusiastic.

A: We, too, have received complaints about the generic form of Lamictal (lamotrigine). This antiseizure drug also is prescribed for bipolar disorder. Others have reported problems with another generic epilepsy medicine, levetiracetam (brand name is Keppra).

Most people assume generic versions of medication are just the same as the brand name but at a lower price. But don’t be fooled. While generics are reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine whether the active ingredient is comparable to the brand name drug, those generics can contain different inactive ingredients, such as fillers, dyes and the like, that some people may be allergic or sensitive to.

In the case of generic Keppra, many people who were managing their condition on the brand name drug who were switched to a generic version found their symptoms returning or suffered from new symptoms such as migraines and seizures. If you have suffered side effects after switching from brand name Keppra to a generic version, you may have a case against the manufacturer.

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