Generic Keppra (Anti-epileptic drug)

(March 26, 2012)  It seems that generic medications have been having their share of problems lately. Just this week we reported that lawsuits could not be filed if a generic was used. The average patient does not know this, nor does the pharmacists make us aware of this. Generics are developed to save patients money, while providing the same qualities as name brands would, and not to increase the problems of the disease or illness.

 

The generic version of the anti-convulsive medication Keppra, commonly used to treat patients that suffer from seizures, such as epilepsy or other seizure disorders, is known as Levetiracetam. Keppra or Levetiracetam may be administered to patients who have had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and had seizures from their brain injury. Generic Keppra is made by a number of different manufacturers.

 

Keppra, the brand name seizure medication, was approved in 2009. Soon after, patients were switched to the generic, Levetiracetam. It is thought that if these generics were equivalent to the brand drug, it would be a great cost-saving benefit to the patient, which, is the main reason patients made the change. Generic medications are allowed to have different inactive ingredients than the brand name medication. This can include fillers, dyes or other ingredients not found in the brand name drug. These additives may cause problems for people with allergies or sensitivities.

 

There is growing evidence that switching from the brand name Keppra to the generic form of Keppra (Levetiracetam) can cause an increased recurrence of seizures. Many individuals have reported being seizure-free for years and then shortly after switching to the generic drug, they reported having seizures. When dealing with anti-convulsive drugs, the smallest variations in concentrations between the brand name and the generic formula, can be toxic, causing seizures when taken by epileptic patients. Just one seizure due to a change in the medication delivered, can be devastating to these patients. This can mean loss of driving privileges, injury, and even death. This change can also result in missed days at work or school. It has been noted that at least 59 percent of patients on Levetiracetam had recurrence of seizures. 49 percent noted a severity in side effects, such as vomiting and weakness. There are some cases of psychotic episodes.

 

In a study reported in the 2010 Journal of Epilepsia, it showed that the generic versions of Keppra did not perform equally to brand name Keppra.

 

Many of these patients were not given a choice to try the generic versions. In some cases, their health insurance companies dictated which medication they would cover. Many people assume the generics are exactly the same as the brand name, only cheaper. These generic drugs should not receive approval from the FDA if they are not exactly the same as the brand name, especially since patients cannot file a lawsuit if they experience serious side effects.

 

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