Lamictal's generic equivalent, lamotrigine, has now hit the market

So much for Miss Up-on-Pharmaceuticals.

I’ve been paying so much attention to Pristiq that the very medication I take slipped out from right under my nose.

How did I find this out? It hit me where it hurt.

In the pockets, of course.

I went to CVS yesterday night for my Lamictal refill. Since I’ve been under my husband’s plan, we’ve been paying about $40 for the medication. So I nearly doubled over when the pharmacy cashier said $54.

WHAT?

I was in a bit of a foul mood about money anyway so the last thing I wanted to do was argue about the cost of my prescription that had jumped up by $14. (Which, in retrospect, I probably should have done because I could have saved $49 right there.)

I came home and made my husband’s day go from bad to worse. He flipped out and got on the phone with his insurance immediately. He said that the max he should pay on any medication is $50 so why was he paying $54 and why the cost rose so sharply.

“Well, sir, it’s because Lamictal has now gone generic and you’re paying the difference between the cost of the medication and the cost of the generic.”

Bob gets off the phone and goes straight to Google News to find out when Lamictal went generic.

Money & drugsAccording to MarketWatch.com, Teva Pharmaceuticals commenced shipment of lamotrigine tablets on July 22nd
. So instead of either the pharmacist asking me if I wanted a generic version or the insurance company letting us know a generic version would be available (it would have saved them money), we ended up paying $49 more than necessary. It appears that Teva’s generic is AB-rated, which means that it has similar strength, bioequivalence, and efficacy. Overall, it likely shouldn’t be a problem if I go from Lamictal to lamotrigine. At least I hope not. We’ll see.

Mood rating:
5

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38 Comments

  1. Gianna said,

    August 5, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I wrote about this a while back…my pharmacist feels it’s risky to switch to generic…
    I’ve also posted articles stating that generic need only be between 80 – 125 % of original so it’s quite likely you get something different…
    since I’m tapering at 2.5 mg at a time a 20- 25 percent difference in strength is too much to mess with…
    Generics are NOT identical…it really sucks…if you change over be very aware of how you feel.

  2. Stephany said,

    August 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I had awful withdrawals (that caused me to temporarily stop removing Xanax)because to save money I dropped the name brand Xanax XR for cheap alprazolam. That nearly killed me a few months ago. It took months to adjust to the generic.(like 3-4 months).
    Then my pdoc stopped accepting drug reps into his office (yay!)but no more free Lamictal samples for me(yep i still took the reps goodies).
    My pdoc told me Lamictal was generic, so a few months ago I asked 3 separate pharmacies, and not one pharmacist heard about it!
    Teva strikes again! they also just tried to gain Seroquel’s patent but AstraZeneca beat them, and so Seroquel name brand, high price and all is with us until 2012.
    I’m on 50mg of Lamictal, and will be removing that one day too. It’s all about money for me now, and that’s the way it is for many people. Plus I think I’ve lost my pep and spunk on that stuff.
    Check Walmart and other pharmacies some have 4$ generic programs now and they all have online lists of what drugs they sell for 4 bucks.

  3. August 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Gianna, I remember your post on generics. That’s why I’m hoping that lamotrigine is close in efficacy to the brand name. I fully intend to pay attention and see what the difference is. This isn’t ibuprofen vs. Advil for sure!
    Stephany,
    It would NOT be good if my pharmacy did not have the generic brand. I’m still hoping to come off of Lamictal one day but we’ll see.
    Also, the generic at the CVS down the street would be $5. I guess the extra dollar is worth it since I haven’t been to Walmart in a really long time…

  4. Gianna said,

    August 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I just talked to my pharmacist about lamictal because I thought GSK was gonna pay for my meds since I’m in the donut hole, but we made $400 dollars too much last year…so I’m facing having to pay for all my meds—up to 2500 or so
    She said AB rated means it’s the 80-125% and that is all it means…so it can still vary greatly.
    also she said that generic brands often change manufacturers so you won’t necessarily get the same thing even if you stick with the same generic brand!!
    Which means your product could be changing all the time!!
    She suggested I ask my doctor for samples which I’ve done. I just called him and hope he can hit up some rep that has some leftovers because basically the reps stop leaving samples once the generic comes out!!
    My pharmacist apparently was a drug rep too, and she told me this is a good time to get the reps to dump their stock on the doc!
    good luck..sounds like we both need it.

  5. Gianna said,

    August 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I just talked to my pharmacist about lamictal because I thought GSK was gonna pay for my meds since I’m in the donut hole, but we made $400 dollars too much last year…so I’m facing having to pay for all my meds—up to 2500 or so
    She said AB rated means it’s the 80-125% and that is all it means…so it can still vary greatly.
    also she said that generic brands often change manufacturers so you won’t necessarily get the same thing even if you stick with the same generic brand!!
    Which means your product could be changing all the time!!
    She suggested I ask my doctor for samples which I’ve done. I just called him and hope he can hit up some rep that has some leftovers because basically the reps stop leaving samples once the generic comes out!!
    My pharmacist apparently was a drug rep too, and she told me this is a good time to get the reps to dump their stock on the doc!
    good luck..sounds like we both need it.

  6. Gianna said,

    August 5, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    I just talked to my pharmacist about lamictal because I thought GSK was gonna pay for my meds since I’m in the donut hole, but we made $400 dollars too much last year…so I’m facing having to pay for all my meds—up to 2500 or so
    She said AB rated means it’s the 80-125% and that is all it means…so it can still vary greatly.
    also she said that generic brands often change manufacturers so you won’t necessarily get the same thing even if you stick with the same generic brand!!
    Which means your product could be changing all the time!!
    She suggested I ask my doctor for samples which I’ve done. I just called him and hope he can hit up some rep that has some leftovers because basically the reps stop leaving samples once the generic comes out!!
    My pharmacist apparently was a drug rep too, and she told me this is a good time to get the reps to dump their stock on the doc!
    good luck..sounds like we both need it.

  7. Gianna said,

    August 5, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    marissa I just wrote a long thing and it seems spam ate it…can you see if it’s there..I don’t feel like rewriting it…

  8. Gianna said,

    August 5, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    got a stock of Lamictal from my doc!
    Picking it up tomorrow!

  9. August 5, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    *envious*

  10. August 7, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Actually, generic brand sometimes DOES make a difference…up to 20% different. According to the nurse practitioner that my sister goes to for her medication-generic brands are allowed a 20% leeway by the FDA. They might be 20% stonger than the Lamictal, OR it can be 20% weaker…therefore, before you make the switch, try to find out more information about this new generic.

  11. Laurel said,

    August 15, 2008 at 3:08 am

    Hi everyone. I’m new here. Just diagnosed with bipolarity in the last month. Previously on antidepressants but should have known this 20 years ago.
    I am on Lamictal 30 mg right now as I am dosing up extremely slowly from 25 mg. Anything more and I’d have a reaction as I found by trying to double to 50mg the first time this week. Had to back off.
    Can anyone tell me if the rumors are true aside from what I already have…headaches, muscle aches (neck, lower back of head, lower legs), hand and toe tingling….
    Is it true you lose your hair in clumps? Is that specific to a dose level? If anyone can give me insight into what I am dealing with, I’d appreciate it. I am optomistic this might work for me…

  12. Laurel said,

    August 15, 2008 at 3:09 am

    Hi everyone. I’m new here. Just diagnosed with bipolarity in the last month. Previously on antidepressants but should have known this 20 years ago.
    I am on Lamictal 30 mg right now as I am dosing up extremely slowly from 25 mg. Anything more and I’d have a reaction as I found by trying to double to 50mg the first time this week. Had to back off.
    Can anyone tell me if the rumors are true aside from what I already have…headaches, muscle aches (neck, lower back of head, lower legs), hand and toe tingling….
    Is it true you lose your hair in clumps? Is that specific to a dose level? If anyone can give me insight into what I am dealing with, I’d appreciate it. I am optomistic this might work for me…

  13. August 19, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Laurel,
    I don’t know if you’ll read this but there are some side effects that you will experience. Check out this post that lists the side effects of Lamictal.
    And my hair has not fallen out in clumps and I’ve been on the drug for nearly 2 years. But everyone is different. You should also probably check out posts from Bipolar Blast and Furious Seasons (Part 1 and Part 2) as they’ve come off of Lamictal and experienced some withdrawal hell as well. Just so you know what you’re getting into…

  14. Jon said,

    September 2, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    On my last refill, the pharmacist said it had gone generic. My out of pocket dropped from $50 to $10. And since the pharmacy didn’t have the generic yet, they filled with actual Lamictal.

  15. linda said,

    September 3, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    3 weeks ago I went to the pharmacy and picked up my lamictal refill. I got home and realized it was the generic. I figured they were the same. Apparently not.
    I have been expereincing strang tingling in my limbs. The right side of my body, especially my face seems to be lazy. My senses in the right side of my face are very sensitive. I am having headaches. I am really not feeling well. I see my psych. tomorrow to see what is up with the switch.
    I would definently say stick with the true lamictal if you can afford it. Believe me a difference of $20 co-pay is worth it.

  16. Marissa said,

    September 8, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Linda,
    I’m on Day 2 of it and so far it hasn’t affected me adversely. We’ll see. If I have any problems, you’ll be sure to hear about it.

  17. Jay said,

    September 11, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Would be very interested in all reactions from changing to TEVA’s generic lamictal. Wife’s latest refill went generic and she’s had very bad luck with others. Checking with doc to get DAW; with pharm. to see how bad the $ hit will be…

  18. Bob Thompson said,

    September 11, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    For marissa and I the price difference is $50 per month. She’s been on it almost a week and is feeling a little fatigued which we can’t be positive is caused by the switch. Other than that, no other problems have popped up.

  19. melinda said,

    September 16, 2008 at 11:21 am

    May I suggest be greatful you have insurance. I pay for my brother in laws lamictal and it is $236 a month. No insurance. But if it is a chance for him to function normally then it is worth every penny, isn’t it?

  20. Marissa said,

    September 16, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Melinda,
    Very true. And I’m considering going back on the name brand in 3 months.

  21. rosie said,

    September 21, 2008 at 9:14 am

    I have been on lamictal for over two years, one year on a research study for long acting lamictal. I take 150mg twice a day for seizures. The cost of it got so expensive that I wasn’t sure what I could do(I’m retired). My doctor said it had gone generic but none of the Pharmacys seemed to know that – I contacted a Canadian Pharmacy and they have it available – my cost in the U.S. was $416 a month on lamictal – in Canada I pay $317 for two months of the generic. I have been on this for about 6 months and see no change whatsoever from switching to the generic.

  22. Julie said,

    September 22, 2008 at 12:01 am

    I’ve been taking 125mg of lamictal for the past 4 years. I haven’t had health insurance in the last 16 months and I’ve been ordering the generic (lamotrigine) from Canada and I’ve been very happy with it. Northwestpharmacy.com in British Columbia has 112 tablets of 100mg lamotrigine for $34.49 US. I absolutely can not afford the prices at my local pharmacies. I’m very grateful that I’ve had an alternative.

  23. B Tone said,

    October 3, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Help available from GSK

    http://www.bridgestoaccess.com/

  24. Rachel said,

    October 22, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    I was on trileptal for 3 years until the switched generic. I didn’t know for 3 months and was in the Dr. getting a ton of tests done… anyways, I’m not a fan of generic of trileptal. That’s why i switched to Lamictal.
    Well I got married and we don’t have insurance, the price of the medication was way to much to cover so I haven’t even been on meds. for the past month and a half. My Dr. is trying to get me set up with GSK but she can’t figure it out and my new Dr. wont. Pharmacist says he can’t do it so I feel lost.
    I found out there is a generic brand out but I’m really nervious to try it. I take Lamictal (150mg) for Bipolar and I can tell when I’m off my meds.. Life is a bit more difficult but managable. I hate the physical health side effects of medications so I guess I’ll just have to see if it’s worth not having side effects of my bipolar. Any advice?!

  25. October 27, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Depression is a commonplace event in modern times, taking on many different forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse, occurring in many different contexts…

  26. November 3, 2008 at 5:05 am

    My name is Lewis Spence and i would like to show you my personal experience with Lamictal.
    I am 27 years old. Have been on Lamictal for at least 10 months now. This is an excellent medication that has significantly improved my life. After having tried Lithium, Depakote, and many other anti-depressants, I was frustrated. But after taking Lamictal, and sticking with it, the results have been exceedingly positive. I strongly recommend it.
    I have experienced some of these side effects-
    Very few; especially compared to other mood stabilizing medications I have taken in the past. For the first few weeks I had some difficulty with memory and word recall, but this went away with time. I sometimes experience more vivid dreams, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Otherwise, no side effects of note.
    I hope this information will be useful to others,
    Lewis Spence

  27. layne said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I was not aware until yesterday, Sept., 6th that Lamicital had gone generic but my insurance knew and my last 90-day refill,they sent me generic. Now, I did not know this but after few weeks or so, I began to feel sickly… kind of like the medicine was not lasting the way it should. My moods became more extreme, major fatigue, headaches. I began to question if something had changed with Lamictal. I thought back to when I got the new supply in and how the shape of the pill had changed and actually did ask my doctor about the pill-shape change but I don’t think they were aware of the generic either so they said, “just a diff. manaufacturer” so…I left it at that. BUT…I just knew something was different. When you have been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder for over 10 yrs, you KNOW your body and when something is OFF. SO I called my ins. co. yesterday and asked about the shape of the pill and what it meant and that’s when I found out it had gone generic. Then it all started making sense b/c I could almost pinpoint when I started feeling like crap and it was around September when I was mailed the generic of Lamictal. I did call my ins. co. today expecting a fight on my hands b/c Lamictal is not cheap but I do thank God that they gave me no trouble. I am all for generics IF they work. But for whatever reason, this one did not work for me and I’m so glad to have some resolution b/c I felt like I was going a little crazy! I have been taking Lamictal for several years and it has been the best med that has ever helped me. I hope that the generic will prove good for everyone else…I really do but IF you notice that things “just don’t feel quite right”, call your doctor as soon as possible and your insurance company.
    I like what someone else posted, “this isn’t like comparing Advil to Ibuprofen”….so true!!

  28. carolyn frierson said,

    November 7, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    This was such a disaster. My doctor wrote me a refill for lamactil and the mail pharmacy sent me lamotrigine. I called them to inquire at which time they told me that it had been approved by the FDA and there would be no unusual effects and was safe. I also consulted my doctor and she concurred. After 3 weeks of taking this drug, I had a rash which looked like leprosy and my doctor didn’t know how to treat the rash and sent me to an internist.

  29. lizb said,

    November 24, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    What I have experienced with generic lamotrigine vs. lamictal: I have been taking lamictal for bipolar II for almost two years now with couldn’t-be-happier results. The pharmacy refilled my prescription generic the other day; I take it before I go to bed as usual. The next morning I wake up just feeling blah. Now ‘blah’is not so bad, but as the day progressed, the blah increased to a ‘what’s the point of trying to do anything’ feeling,not to mention ‘don’t you dare try to talk to me’ when the day before I was 100% great. On day two, I could barely drive I was so out of it, my mood was progressively sinking, I find myself bawling in the bathroom after watching ‘Arctic Tale’ with my kids and I was as irritable as a thirty-year-smoker on day one of quitting. Went to see my psychiatrist today, he said it definitely sounded like I was having a reaction to the generic and he gave me a new prescription for lamictal, DAW. Now, today, my mood isn’t quite as abysmal (although I don’t feel like I can do anything productive) but now I’m having this severe headache which is notable because I never have headaches. I never would have thought that there was much of a difference between generic and brand-name; now I’m pretty much convinced. I look forward to taking the real lamictal again tonight and hope that things return to normal soon.

  30. Tony said,

    November 26, 2008 at 5:55 am

    I as well was given the generic form of Lamictal this month. All of my bipolar symptoms had disappeared for over a year since I had started taking Lamictal and since I have been on the generic they have all started to reappear. I strongly believe that the generic cannot be the same as Lamictal. Things in my life have recently gotten better and I am happier so there is no reason other than the switch to generic to make me symptomatic again. I know that it will cost me more each month, but I have had a tremendously better life while on Lamictal that it will be worth the extra cost. Other generic medications, like those for Tylonol, have worked just fine for me so I was not particularly worried about switching to the generic of Lamictal. Now I feel like it was a big mistake to make the change just to save a little money. I am hoping that my doctor does not have a problem with switching me back to the brand name.

  31. Alexander said,

    December 24, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    It’s interesting how most of these blogs sound like Lamictal commercials. I wonder if many of them were posted by people who profit off of Lamictal sales. Certainly, many people have switched to generic Lamotrigine with no differences. I read one post that claimed that after switching, the patient had 7 car accidents in one month. Maybe I’m nuts, but I’d say after 2 or 3 accidents in that short a time period, one would stop and say, “OK, time to stop driving, see a doctor and do something about this” rather than letting it get up to 7. I’m also a little suspicious of the advertisement-like wording of many posts… “I’ve used Lamictal for years and everything was peaches and cream. Then I switched to generic and it all went to hell. I know it costs more, but my health is well worth it. I trust Lamictal because it works for me!” Who talks like that outside of commercials and advertisements? When a generic medication is created, it’s the law that it must be an exact duplicate of the original.

  32. John B. said,

    January 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    @Alexander:
    I switched to generic lamotrigine and have had no issues with effectiveness, but your assertion that generics must legally be exact duplicates of the original is inaccurate to put it mildly.
    In the U.S., the FDA requires bioequivalence but leaves room for substantial variation (http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/docs/preface/ecpreface.htm). Generic equivalents of time-release products (which of course Lamictal is not) do not have to use the same mechanism to control the release and generally cannot anyway since these mechanisms are proprietary and are protected separately from the drug patent.
    The bigger issue, however, is that most generics are manufactured overseas. Most of these plants have never been visited by the FDA. Importation of drugs from one Indian manufacturer was blocked because their shoddy production and QA practices meant that their product could potentially have been contaminated and they would have had no way of knowing.
    You should exercise caution before casting aspersions on the motives of others, given that you don’t seem to really know what you’re talking about here.

  33. Leah said,

    February 17, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Does anyone have any info on starting with the generic lamictal (rather than switching)? I have recently been diagnosed as having bipolar and would like to start taking the generic…but am not sure what the effect will be.
    Advice?

  34. Marissa said,

    February 18, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Leah,
    Side effects will vary for everyone. You may experience slightly different side effects from being on the generic but I anticipate that it won’t vary TOO much. Either way, getting onto a medication will put you in for a doozy for a while. Expect that much.
    If I may, let me redirect you to this post that lists the side effects of Lamictal so you have an idea of what the generic might do to you. And even though you’re on the generic does not mean that you shouldn’t keep an eye out for that nasty Stevens-Johnson Syndrome rash. That’s the biggest side effect to keep an eye out for.

  35. John B. said,

    March 31, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    An update… I started having memory problems after having been on the generic for a couple of months, and they cleared up when I went back to the brand. Kinda scary.

  36. Lori Bell said,

    June 23, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Hi I just started Lamictal or I guess the generic Lamotrigine yesterday. Im suppose to use 25mg for 14 days, then increase to 50 for 14 days until I reach 100. When will i notice a difference with this medication?

  37. Aisha said,

    July 6, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I’ve been taking Lamictal for 18 months and have loved being happy for the first time in 54 years. Then I started taking the generic since my pdoc said it’s the same. NOT! My mood has deteriorated almost back to what it was before I started taking Lamictal. As I’ve read on other blogs, my doc doesn’t credit the generic with causing this downturn. I did convince him to prescribe the brand again. Even though it’s more expensive, feeling good is too important to cut this out of my budget!

  38. josh said,

    July 20, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    I just started taking Lamictal 6 weeks ago. I was prescribed for bipolar. My prescription was for and my insurance accepted the “Starter Pack”. Once I completed the starter pack and was on 100mg a day my pharmacy switched me to the generic.
    It has been a week and a half, at first I thought I was downcycling harder than the drug could keep up with, but since I started Lamictal I have not had a downcycle this bad or this long also I am experiencing mild headaches and increased anxiety. After reading more I have major concerns using the generic. Unfortunately my insurance charges me the difference between the actual cost of the generic and the name brand. My cost for the name brand would be $174. Previous posts talk about its worth the cost of quality of life, but at these prices I couldn’t afford to pay rent. Also I read that the generic that has the most issues is Teva. I have read that because the generic may not be as strong its possible to increase dosage but I have not been able to find someone to validate that.


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