Generic Medications for Epilepsy - are they safe?

There is no such thing as a "safe" medication - just different degrees of risk. Even aspirin can be dangerous if you cannot tolerate it. When you take medication to control seizures you are choosing to reduce your chance of having dangerous seizures, but in exchange, you are increasing your risk of other things (side effects). The side effects, if any, are usually minor and the exchange is worthwhile.

Generic medications are safe, but they are not identical to the name brand medications. They may have been manufactured in a different way from the name-brand medications so that the rate they are absorbed and the rate that they are broken down may differ.

Generic medications are often cheaper than name-brand drugs. Increasingly, they are preferred by insurers, for this reason. However, they are not without risks that are not found when using name-brand medication.If you take generics - pay attention to who actually made your medication. For example, there are at least five manufacturers of lamotrigine, the generic equivalent of Lamictal, as many as 17 manufacturers of zonegran, etc. Generic manufactures try to be as close to the original drug as possible in effectiveness and in the way the drug is broken down (metabolized) by the body. The active ingredient is identical to the name brand drug. The FDA requires generics to be within 80 - 125% of the name brand in their effectiveness.

This means that if you change from one generic to a different generic (same chemical name, different manufacturer) the way your body processes the drug may change due a different filling material or a different fabrication method. The change from one generic to another generic with the same name may be bigger than the change from the name-brand drug to either of the generics.

If you, or your doctor, decide that generics will help you, pay attention to the brand (your pharmacy can help you here - ask them who the manufacturer is). Try and keep to the same manufacturer.

A detailed description is here http://professionals.epilepsy.com/page/generic_considerations.html

WebMD also has useful information on this topic http://www.webmd.com/epilepsy/features/epilepsy-medications-when-is-it-safe-to-substitute-a-generic