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Epilepsy charity call for drug plan to be reconsidered

The National Society for Epilepsy (NSE) is calling on the Department of Health to look again at cost-cutting plans which could put the lives of people with epilepsy at risk.

From January 2010 pharmacists will be obliged to substitute expensive branded drugs with a cheaper generic version.  Although essentially the same, there are subtle differences in how different generic forms of a drug are made up and for people with epilepsy those differences could have a catastrophic effect.

Professor John Duncan, NSE’s medical director, said: “Epilepsy is different from other conditions. A single seizure has severe consequences. It impacts on the ability to drive, employment, well being and increases the risk of injury and harm. The cost saving on the drug budget is not worth the potential harm caused and the cost of dealing with seizures."

The Department of Health’s plans are part of the 2009 Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme.

NSE’s communications manager, Amanda Cleaver, said: “The Department of Health appears not to have consulted with patient groups on this decision. As the UK’s leading medical epilepsy charity our message is clear – anti-epileptic drugs must be exempt from the scheme.”

NSE has submitted to the Department of Health recommendations from a round table discussion with key representatives from the pharmaceutical industry who unanimously agreed with NSE’s stance.

National Society for Epilepsy