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How Can People Afford Brand Name Medicines?

Millions of people have lost their jobs and their health insurance. Some can't tolerate generic drugs. But how can they afford brand name medicines?

We are frequently stunned by the high cost of medicines. That is especially true for brand name drugs. Most people have discovered that their insurance companies make it difficult to afford brand name medicines. That is why they opt for generic drugs instead. The price differential can be stunning. What can people do if they have doubts about the quality of the generic substitutes?

How Can People Afford Brand Name Medicines like Keppra?

Q. My daughter, 33, who lives in Los Angeles, has epilepsy. She has stayed seizure-free with Keppra. However, her health insurance will no longer pay for it, and it costs nearly $2,000 a month.

She has read on message boards that epileptics who take the generic may experience breakthrough seizures. Unless she can find a way to get Keppra affordably, she will have no choice but to take the generic. What advice can you give her so that she can attempt to obtain the highest quality generic possible?

A. We searched for an authorized generic version of Keppra (levetiracetam). That would mean a formulation identical to the brand name. Sadly, none appears to be available, so this is not an option.

A different approach might be to purchase brand name Keppra from a reputable online Canadian pharmacy. If your daughter were taking the maximum daily dose of 3,000 mg, the cost would be around $300 for a month’s supply.

That is still expensive, but $300 vs. $2,000 is a big saving. We have heard from other people that generic levetiracetam is not always effective:

Miriam shared this story about generic Keppra:

“My son and I sent in the doctor’s request form, notes and a letter saying that my son cannot take generic levetiracetam because he eventually has seizures with it.

“The Insurance company told us that they only offer generics on their plan and do not cover brand name Keppra. I am at my wits end and don’t know what to do now.”

Bill cannot afford brand name medicines like Keppra:

“I have been suffering with seizure activity for most of my life. I thought I would die from it.

“I went to school to learn a trade. I started a business. I was put on Keppra and my seizures stopped.

“But then the generics came in to play. I began having worse seizures then before. They put me on levetiracetam. I lost my business because the generic drug interfered with my work.

“Now I’m back on Keppra and the seizures have stopped. I’m still fighting the insurance company because they will not supply it. My future is in the hands of the government.”

Keppra is not the only brand name medicine that is out of the reach of many of our readers. For them, getting access to affordable brand name drugs can make a huge difference when it comes to quality of life.

You can find cost comparisons at www.PharmacyChecker.com. We offer more information on evaluating online Canadian pharmacies and authorized generic drugs in our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines.  You will find it in the Health eGuides section at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. 

Share your own experience with generic drugs in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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