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Epilepsy Health Center

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Switching Epilepsy Medications

Switching Medications for Epilepsy: How It's Done continued...

2. The "double-cover" period. Usually, you'll start taking your new epilepsy drug while still taking the old one. This makes sure you maintain protection from seizures until the new epilepsy drug begins to work. Most epilepsy drugs doses are increased at weekly intervals.

3. Weaning from the older drug (or not). Your doctor may recommend you stay on both epilepsy drugs for a while. Or, he or she may advise you to gradually reduce, then stop the first drug. During this time, you and your loved ones should watch out for and record any seizures. From start to finish, switching epilepsy medications can take several weeks.

What to Expect After Switching Medications

What happens after switching medications? You won't know if your new epilepsy drug is effective until you've gone seizure-free for twice the usual time, according to experts. That is, if you previously went two months between seizures, it will take four months between seizures to be sure the new medicine is working.

Switching From Brand to Generic Epilepsy Drugs

Many people with epilepsy feel squeezed by the bills for their brand-name epilepsy drugs. Switching to a generic can be one way to lower the price tag of living with epilepsy. Others don't choose to switch, but their insurance company substitutes generic drugs without notifying them.

Though generic drugs save money, experts are raising concerns it may pose problems for people with epilepsy. One generic drug is often switched for another, on as frequently as a monthly basis. Although generic drugs are tightly regulated by the FDA, small variances are allowed.

Most experts in treating epilepsy believe frequent switching of medications between generic drugs can trigger seizures in people with well-controlled epilepsy. Until clinical studies resolve the issue, they generally advise sticking with brand-name epilepsy drugs, if you can afford them.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on July 20, 2014
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