Testing of a generic epilepsy drug approved by Pharmac shows significant differences from previously funded brands, according to patient advocates.
In May 2019, Pharmac began switching about 11,000 epilepsy patients to a generic form of lamotrigine called Logem. Since then, seven deaths have been possibly linked to the change and nearly 200 cases of adverse reactions reported to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring.
Today patients and advocates presented a petition to the health select committee at Parliament, calling for funding to be reinstated for Lamictal and Arrow-Lamotrigine.
They also shared the findings of tests they had done in US lab Valisure to compare Logem with the previously funded brands.
Their results found the differences in dose between Logem and Lamictal ranged from 3.6 to 11.7 per cent.
"Pharmac has said the difference in brands should be no more than 5 per cent," said Kirsten Julian, an epilepsy patient.
The drug regulator Medsafe says the results are at odds with independent tests its done of the two brands. It's now contacting the group to ask for further information about their results.
Medsafe says its tests showed the medicine met all "quality specifications."
"The differences in dissolution between the generic and innovator brand of lamotrigine were within 5 per cent - the internationally accepted level for dissolution testing," said Medsafe Group Manager Chris James.
Pharmac advises patients prescribed Logem to not stop taking it and to speak to their doctor if they have concerns.