There was an article yesterday in the ‘Irish Times’ entitled ‘Epilepsy Group Warns On New Drugs‘ which at first glance is very troubling for Epilepsy sufferers. That may well be the case, but a little research portrays another story; the ‘conflict of interest’ within the medical profession and an Epilepsy support group. Incidentally, Epilepsy drugs come with similar warnings to SSRIs: behavioural changes, depression, suicide ideation, aggression and birth defects.
My brother who died 2 years ago in an accidental death, age 43, had Epilepsy. He would have done anything to stop the seizures and tried every pill available, even a brain operation. At one stage he was on 4 different Epilepsy drugs and a Parkinsons drug. He didn’t have Parkinsons but this was used to counteract the adverse-effects of the Epilepsy drugs. Never once in his 43 years did the seizures stop; so the only gain was made by the Pharmaceutical industry and my brother had to live with Epileptic seizures, plus the side effects of the medication.
I wrote to the Irish Times yesterday in reply to the article below. My reply (and my point) is underneath:
Irish Times Article
RONAN McGREEVY November 27, 2012
A failure to exclude epilepsy patients from new legislation designed to bring down the cost of drugs in Ireland could put lives at risk, it has been claimed.
Brainwave – the Irish Epilepsy Association urged 40 Oireachtas members at a briefing in Leinster House last week to exclude epilepsy from the Health (Pricing Supply of Medical Goods Bill) 2012 which is due to be enacted before the end of the year.
The Bill allows for the substitution of patent drugs with their generic equivalent as part of efforts to bring down the State’s €1.8 billion drugs bill. Brainwave has said substituting patent drugs for generic drugs could have “catastrophic consequences” for many of the 37,000 people in Ireland who have epilepsy.
Consultant neurologist Prof Norman Delanty said the active ingredients in generic drugs were the same as in the patent drugs but the way they were absorbed in the body could differ.
“If you look at a tablet on the counter top, the other substances such as binders and other agents which expands the volume of the tablet, there are things that make it taste better, there are things that put the colour on it. The way the tablet is manufactured can cause variability in how a drug is absorbed through the small intestine.
“If you are on a drug for high pressure or high cholesterol you can work around those adjustments. If you have epilepsy you can have a seizure and that it is a disaster,” he said.
“That for individual patients can cause breakthrough seizure and a seizure can be catastrophic for an individual on a number of levels including danger in terms of injury, prolonged seizures, risk of death and loss of driving privileges.”
He said the differences in prices between generic and patent drugs for epilepsy patients was small and it was a false economy because the State would lose out with more hospitalisations.
My point and my letter to the Irish Times Editor
I have concerns about an article in this week’s Times entitled ‘Epilepsy group warns on new drugs’. The article states that Brainwave (the Irish Epilepsy Association) urged members of the Oireachtas to exclude Epilepsy from the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012. The proposed Bill would allow for the substitution of a cheaper, generic equivalent of medication, including Epilepsy drugs. The article further states that Brainwave has said substituting patent drugs for generic drugs could result in ‘catastrophic consequences’. Consultant neurologist Prof Norman Delanty agreed and said this could possibly result in injury, prolonged seizures, risk of death and loss of driving privileges. Could there possibly be another agenda for such scaremongering?
First of all, Brainwave’s website is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from UCB; a pharmaceutical company which produce epilepsy medication.
Secondly, among Prof Delanty’s listed ‘conflicts of interests’ are, among others, the following: “He is or has been a member of UCB Pharma Advisory Board (UK), has received speaker’s honoraria from UCB and has received unrestricted educational and research grant support from UCB.”
Surely this changes things and puts a different prospective on the scaremongering tactics coming from Brainwave and Prof Delanty? The ‘conflict of interest’ here is staggering.
Prof Delanty Conflict of Interests, P. 246 http://neurores.wdfiles.com/local–files/56-myoclonic-seizures-and-infantile-spasms/Shahwan_PME.pdf