Should You Switch Epilepsy Medications?
Where Do You Start? continued...
2. The "double-cover" period. Most people start taking the new drug while still on the old one. This protects you from seizures until the new drug takes effect. The new drug’s doses will go up at weekly intervals.
3. Wean from the older drug (or not). Your doctor may keep you on both drugs for a while. Or she may tell you to gradually reduce, then stop the first drug. During this time, you and your loved ones should watch for and record any seizures. From start to finish, switching medications can take several weeks.
What to Expect
What happens after you switch? You won't know if your new drug works until you've gone seizure-free for twice the usual time. So if you previously went 2 months between seizures, it will take 4 months between seizures to be sure the new medicine works.
What About Generics?
Many people feel squeezed by the bills for their brand-name meds. Switching to a generic can lower the price tag of living with epilepsy. Other people don't choose to switch; their insurance company substitutes generic drugs for them.
Though generics save money, there is concern. 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 epilepsy experts believe frequent switches among generic drugs can trigger seizures. Until clinical studies resolve the issue, they generally advise sticking with brand-name drugs if you can afford them.