Generic Keppra (levetiracetam) is an anti-seizure or antiepileptic drug. Although its mechanism of action is unknown, it inhibits the spread of seizure activity in the brain, according to Medicine Net.
Clinical studies have shown that adding levetiracetam to other antiepileptic drugs reduced the frequency of seizures.
Levetiracetam was approved in 2009, but soon after, patients started to switch Generic Keppra, which is bioequivalent to the brand Keppra. Generic Keppra is a much cheaper alternative than its branded counterpart, which is why patients have been making the change.
Cost and Manufacturer
Keppra is generally a moderately priced drug than other antiepileptic medications. Generic Keppra is covered by most Medicare and insurance plans. According to GoodRx, the lowest price for generic versions of Keppra is around $9.00, which is more than 85% cheaper than the branded version that costs $88.02.
UCB (Union Chimique Belge), a multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, manufactures the brand Keppra, which is one of the most widely used antiepileptic drugs approved for the treatment of focal and generalized epilepsy. Soon after, another drug manufacturer got approval for marketing Generic Keppra.
Common side effects of Generic Keppra include headaches, sleepiness, weakness, dizziness, or difficulty walking or moving. Some patients reported behavioral abnormalities such as hostility, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, nervousness, and aggression. Other side effects of levetiracetam include Steven-Johnson syndrome and severe skin reactions.
Problems and Lawsuit
There has been growing evidence that switching from the brand Keppra to the Generic Keppra can increase the risk of seizure recurrence. Most individuals who used the branded version have reported being seizure-free for years but reported having seizures shortly after switching to Generic Keppra, according to Gacovino & Lake, a law firm.
The smallest variation in drug concentrations between brand Keppra and Generic Keppra could be toxic, causing recurrence of seizures. Just one episode of seizure due to a switch in the medication can be devastating. The law firm says nearly 60% of patients on a generic version of levetiracetam had a recurrence of seizures, while 49% noted a severity in side effects such as weakness and vomiting.
A 2010 study, which was published in the Journal of Epilepsia, showed that the generic Keppra did not perform equally to brand name Keppra, according to Gacovino & Lake.
Many doctors did not give patients the choice to switch to generic versions citing the results of the study. Most people assume that generics are exactly the same as the brand name, but there are differences apart from the cost. Generic drugs with an undeclared amount of active ingredients should not receive approval from the FDA, especially since patients cannot file a lawsuit against the generic drugs if they experience any serious side effects.