How to Save On Your Seizure Medication
high drug prices
Having a seizure disorder, or medical condition that causes seizures can be very frightening. Regardless of how severe they are, it can be disconcerting to lose periods of time in your memory (no matter how short) or be unable to control your body. Seizure medication — or anticonvulsants — can be incredibly important for a person to lead a normal life, and in many cases, they are vital to a person’s survival.
Seizure disorders can drastically change a person’s quality of life. If you have unpredictable seizures, you may not be able to take certain jobs (such as ones involving the operation of heavy machinery). Simple tasks such as swimming or bathing can become a potential risk of accidental drowning. Seizures can also be dangerous during pregnancy, and unfortunately some anticonvulsants are known to cause birth defects.
And all of these issues don’t even touch on the psychological toll a seizure disorder can have on a person. People who require anticonvulsants heavily rely upon them in order to live a normal life.
Here are some of the most popular seizure medications on the market, how much they cost, and how they prevent seizures.
What are Seizures?
Seizures are periods of uncontrollable electrical disturbance in the brain. They typically last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes, but if they last longer than five minutes, they’re considered a medical emergency.
There are many different kinds of seizures ranging from mild and barely noticeable (if they’re noticeable at all) to severe and life-threatening. Some people simply look like they’ve zoned out for a moment, while others can black out and wake up a few minutes later without having a clue what happened. The underlying cause of seizures can affect their severity.
Types of Seizures
There are two main types of seizures: focal and generalized. As these terms suggest, focal seizures occur in one part of the brain, while generalized seizures occur in multiple areas of the brain.
Focal seizures (also called partial seizures) typically present as people zoning out while doing absent-minded movements, such as blinking, hand-rubbing, inability to respond to people talking, sudden shifts in emotion, and twitching or jerking limbs, among many other symptoms. During the seizure, the person may also experience changes in their senses, such as tingling sensations, dizziness, or flashing lights in front of their eyes.
Generalized seizures are far more varied and come with their own list of classifications.
Absence seizures used to be called petit mal seizures and typically present as something subtle, such as blinking or mouth movement. These types of seizures can occur relatively unnoticed in children and can happen hundreds of times per day, as they only last a few seconds. It often looks like someone has just spaced out.
During tonic seizures, a person’s muscles tense — typically the back and limbs. This sudden stiffness can cause the person to fall over, and loss of consciousness is possible.
Similarly, atonic seizures cause a person to lose control of their bodies — their muscles stop responding to commands from the brain, which often results in the person falling down or dropping their head. For this reason, they’re sometimes called drop seizures.
Clonic seizures cause repetitive muscle movements, presenting as jerking or twitching. This primarily affects the upper body, such as the face, neck and arms.
Myoclonic seizures are similar to clonic seizures in their presentation of jerking muscle movements, but the movement is restricted to arms and legs.
The most severe and dramatic form of a seizure is called a tonic-clonic seizure, or a grand mal seizure. These seizures can be scary to witness (and of course, experience), as the person loses muscle control, and very often also loses consciousness for at last a few minutes — sometimes longer. Sudden muscle stiffness is common, as is collapsing, loss of bladder control, biting of the tongue, and shaking.
The term mixed seizure is also used in discussions about epilepsy. This refers to a disorder in which people experience a few different types of generalized seizures, such as myoclonic and atonic in addition to tonic-clonic seizures.
Common Causes of Seizures
The most common cause of seizures is epilepsy, which is a brain disorder that causes seizures specifically unrelated to conditions that would cause an extraordinarily high fever. While all seizures are a result of a disruption in neural pathways, not all seizures are caused by epilepsy. Epilepsy cannot be cured, but can often be treated with prescription medications and lifestyle changes, when necessary.
Other causes of seizures are environmental or a result of lifestyle, such as flashing or moving lights, sleep deprivation, and drug or alcohol abuse.
Additionally, seizures can be caused by very high fever when the body is fighting an infection, brain tumors, stroke, and some autoimmune disorders.
And of course, seizures can be caused by physical trauma, such as accidents in which someone hits their head or a brain bleed (whether related or unrelated).
Lamictal (lamotrigine) is a sodium channel blocker, which (as the name suggests), blocks the signaling of sodium channels. In this case, Lamictal is used to stop the sodium from entering the nerve cells because it tends to be a trigger for seizures by increasing electrical activity in the brain.
Lamotrigine is typically used to help control epileptic seizures, particularly tonic-clonic and partial seizures. It’s approved for use as young as age two, including for those diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS), which is a severe seizure disorder that is typically recognized during childhood. LGS can go unnoticed for quite some time, especially if the seizures are quick and happen while the child sleeps.
In the United States, Lamictal starts at about $460.00 for a one-month supply of the 5 mg dose. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell the same amount and dose for about $32.00.
Dilantin (phenytoin) is another popular anticonvulsant approved to treat people ages six and older. Like Lamictal, it’s used to prevent tonic-clonic and complex partial seizures. The active ingredient in Dilantin helps to slow brain activity before it triggers a seizure. Instead of the brain firing as rapidly as it needs to during a seizure, the phenytoin puts a stop to that surge of activity.
In the U.S. brand name Dilantin costs about $51.00 for a one-month supply of the 30 mg dose. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell the exact same dose for just $30.00, but in a 100-pill supply.
Like Lamictal and Dilantin, Topamax (topiramate) is an anticonvulsant frequently used to prevent tonic-clonic and partial seizures. It’s also approved for use in patients diagnosed with LGS as young as age two.
However, there is a significant differentiating factor between Topamax and the previous two drugs. Topamax actually combines both of these functions (a calming agent and a blocker), plus a third to tackle seizures in three different ways.
First, Topamax acts as a calming agent by boosting the activity of the second most prevalent neurotransmitter in the brain, Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Second, it acts as a sodium channel blocker (much like Lamictal). And third, it restricts the effects of another neurotransmitter called glutamate, which can stimulate nerve cells.
In the U.S., brand name Topamax will cost about $240.00 for a 30-day supply of the 15 mg dose. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell the same dose in a 60-day supply for about $62.00.
Tegretol XR (carbamazepine controlled release) is an anticonvulsant approved for people ages six and up diagnosed with tonic-clonic, partial, and mixed seizures. Tegretol XR (extended release) works as a sodium channel blocker in order to stabilize neural cell activity.
In the United States, a 30-day supply of Tegretol XR will cost about $53.00 cash for the 100 mg dose. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell 100-day supplies of Tegretol XR for $140.00, which works out to be about $0.36 less per pill.
The generic is also less expensive through NorthWestPharmacy.com. We sell a 112-day supply of carbamazepine controlled release for about $49.00 in the 200 mg dose. In the United States, you’d pay $60.00 cash for a 30-day supply at the same dose.
Depakote (divalproex sodium delayed release) is another anticonvulsant that targets the neurotransmitter GABA, with the aim of calming down the brain so nerve cells don’t get overactive and trigger seizures. It is only available in 125 mg doses.
In the United States, a 30-capsule supply of Depakote starts at about $70.00. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell a 100-capsule supply for $207.00.
Depakote ER (divalproex sodium ER) is clearly the same medication in regular Depakote, but in an extended release form. Drugs offered in ER form (or XR as it’s abbreviated sometimes, like with Tegretol XR) allows the active ingredient to release more slowly, which theoretically allows a person to take less medication because the concentration of medication remains more steady throughout the day.
Some experts also believe that ER or XR formulas allow for fewer side effects, or less severe side effects because the body is able to metabolize the medication more consistently instead of in a rush soon after ingestion.
In the U.S., Depakote ER will cost about $125.00 cash for a 30-day supply in the 250 mg dose. The 500 mg dose is closer to $220.00. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell a 90-day supply of the 250 mg dose for about $73.00. The 500 mg dose is about $30.00 more for a 90-day supply.
The generic divalproex sodium ER isn’t horribly expensive in the United States — about $30.00 cash for a 30-day supply in the 250 mg dose — but is still cheaper at NorthWestPharmacy.com. We have a 100-day supply for about $56.00.
Sprinkle Capsules vs. Tablets
One final note on seizure medications is in the form in which they are available. As children have a difficult time swallowing pills (nor should they at too young an age), you’ll see something called "sprinkle capsules," which means that the capsule can be opened and the contents (the medication itself) can be mixed into food or water.
While children are often the target market for such medication forms, they are useful for anyone who struggles with swallowing pills, including the elderly.
When purchasing your seizure medication, make sure you’re reading all the information to make sure you’re buying the correct form of your medication. There shouldn’t be a difference between the forms in terms of concentration or effectiveness, but tablets aren’t necessarily approved or recommended for crushing up.
Always check with your doctor with any questions you have regarding your medication.
Finding a Safe Online Canadian Pharmacy for Your Seizure Medication
At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we completely understand and respect the importance of getting your anticonvulsants at an affordable price. This medication is life-saving for you — if not literally, it can vastly improve your quality of life, allowing you to maybe drive a car, live independently, and hold down a steady job.
All of these things are incredibly important in the mental health of people with seizure disorders, as is the case with all incurable or chronic diseases. Having access to the medication you need is the first step to finding a new normal.
We recognize and acknowledge the safety concerns that our customers have, especially when purchasing their medication from us for the first time. Let us assure you that our primary goal is to keep you safe. Not only are we meticulous on our own merits, we also follow all safety protocols laid out by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) and the International Pharmacy Association of British Columbia (IPABC).
CIPA and IPABC are third-party organizations that were formed to monitor and set best practices for online Canadian pharmacies and international ones. The guidelines they’ve written are informed by the regulations and practices of retail and online pharmacies in North America. We maintain a perfect safety record — something we take great pride in.
In order to make sure you’re getting the medication you need, we only use dispensing pharmacies that are also certified by CIPA. This helps ensure that the supply chain is only sourcing safe and authentic drugs.
If you’re ready to place an order, would like help placing your order or have questions, please get in touch with us today. Our call center is available 7 days a week at 1-866-539-5330 and is staffed by knowledgeable customer service representatives. You can also speak with a licensed pharmacist if you have questions about your medications or would like prescription counseling. If you’re trying to reach us outside of business hours, please feel free to email us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.