Those of you who follow my blog have probably figured out by now I have epilepsy. In November of last year, my neurologist added the generic form of Keppra to my seizure control meds (Levetiracetam). He did so in order to better control the brief, 2-second, simple partial (or, Absence) seizures I would have. For those unfamiliar with these, a 2-second simple partial seizure appears to someone else as though the individual is momentarily distracted. The person having the seizure is aware, but it’s more like a “blip” on the radar. That’s the only way I can describe it. But I digress…
I should note, prior to adding this medication I was never photosensitive. That is, strobes did not easily trigger seizures for me. Laser tag was out, but I could safely go to a dance club. In February, that changed. I was out with the girls; we were dancing and having a great time. As the music changed, so did the strobes in the club. I could feel that “out of body” sensation. I just stopped dancing in the middle of the song, looked at my best friend and told her, “I need to get out of here.” We were all on a cruise ship that weekend. I made a B-line for the door and just sat on a bench in the hallway. Lyl came out with me. She was asking me the standard questions. I could answer her but I was slow to respond. Everything was slow. It was a simple-partial seizure, but it was longer than the 2-second blip I used to have. This was more of a “train” of simple partial seizures, coming in waves (and no, not the waves under the boat…<g>).
The same thing happened the next night at the dance club, but not as bad.
I told my neurologist about this, and he increased the dosage of the Levetiracetam. In March, I had a full blown generalized seizure. At this point, I can’t drive for 6 months.
My neurologist increased the dosage of the Levetiracetam again. Four weeks later, I had a full day of the simple-partial seizures, where they come in back-to-back trains.
He increased the dosage again. I had another train of simple-partial seizures 3 weeks later.
At my next appointment, he started to suggest increasing the dosage one more time. I told him I didn’t think that was working. I didn’t think the Levetiracetam was working, and pointed out my threshold seems to be lowering as we increase the dosage. This is what I like about my neurologist – he listens to his patients. He reviewed the overall pattern and agreed with me. We discussed weaning off the Levetiracetam, which is exactly what I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. I haven’t had any problems yet (:: knocks on wood ::).
My surprise this morning? Just out of curiosity, I was doing some research on Levetiracetam. I found out there’s a class action lawsuit on the medication. It seems the generic for Keppra isn’t quite as effective as the brand name. Patients who were switched from Keppra to Levetiracetam experienced an increase in their seizures, causing them to lose driving privileges. It is being stated that persons taking the generic “could lose driving privileges due to the fact it can onset more seizures, it will also impair them from employment or school with time lost.” There have been cases indicated of injuries from the drug. It was noted that at least 59% of patients on this medication had more recurring seizures.
Now, that statistic is from an article written in 2010. However, I found other sites indicating the class action is still being pursued. It’s possible my neurologist is unaware of this (and I do plan on asking him on my next visit). Regardless, why is this drug on the market?