Brand Name Lamictal and Generic Lamotrigine …2015 Update

generic medications bipolar disorderI regularly receive questions about the brand name drug Lamictal.  It’s one of the best medications around for treating bipolar disorder depression. It works as an anti depressant without as many concerns about mania.  It saved my life.  It’s the only drug I’ve ever been able to use long term. I was on it for five years. My bipolar disorder is under control these days and I’m not taking it regularly, but at one time I was on 750 mg a day and it kept my suicidal depression from getting too severe.  Lamictal (lamotrigine) has one of the highest treatment effectiveness ranges. The therapeutic dose is around 200 mg, but many people need a higher dose.

The brand name of the drug is Lamictal and the generic is called lamotrigine. When the generic came out seven years ago, it wasn’t very trustworthy. You can read about my experiences with the original generic lamotrigine on this blog- these posts are from the first week it came out as a generic- it wasn’t a stable drug at the time and I had to use the brand name for awhile as the generic literally would not enter my system. (My posts on generic bipolar disorder medications explains why this can happen even though the active ingredients in the brand name and generic are the same.)

Despite this improvement in generic lamotrigine, there are still some people who do not do well with generics and still want to use the brand name drugs. I just received a comment from Robin on this topic.  Here is my answer:

“ Hello Robin, It’s always a dilemma when the generic version does not work. Brand Lamictal is one of the most expensive drugs on the market, but you can petition your insurance company and prove that the generic version does not work and sometimes they will approve the brand name. This was because when generic Lamictal (lamotrigine) came out, there were some concerns about the make-up of the generics. Now, that the generic version has been perfected and works for most people, insurance companies are not as likely to allow you to switch to the brand-name option. This is why you have to prove that it doesn’t work for you. I should note here that if the generics didn’t work for you in the past, there is a chance they might work for you now. If you have determined that the lamotrigine does not work for you and you do not have insurance, you can contact Glaxo Smith Kline and ask them about their medication discount program, but it can still be quite expensive. Another route is to ask if your healthcare professional can obtain some samples, but this is not a long-term solution. Another option is to look for authentic drugs from Canada, but you have to be very careful and make sure that the quantity is clear. Sometimes, you find that the drugs are a lot cheaper, but it turns out to be for only half the amount. Good luck! 

I want to stress that once generics have been used for a few years they can get a lot better-  in the bipolar disorder medication world almost all of the drugs used are generic. All of the work I do with my parents and partner coaching clients is about bipolar disorder medications. I’m lucky that my coauthor Dr. John Preston has been my advisor and teacher on the topic for ten years.  I don’t give medical advice, but it’s essential that anyone associated with bipolar disorder knows what each medication does and the typical dosage ranges.

You can read one of my posts from 2012 below to see how generic lamotrigine worked at the beginning. It wasn’t as well manufactured as it is now!

Julie

****

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for the great comments you leave on the blog. Here is some information on Glaxo’s prescription program. They make Lamictal- it’s now available in generic, but if you qualify, this may be cheaper. For those of you new to Lamictal- it’s an anti convulsant used to treat bipolar depression.  It has helped so many people, but it’s expensive.

**

Most major drug companies have programs to help low income people with bipolar disorder get prescription help.  Here is a link for GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Lamictal.

http://www.gskforyou.com/

I have to ask this- where is the help for the middle class ?!!!

Julie

8 comments to Brand Name Lamictal and Generic Lamotrigine …2015 Update

  • Rosa

    Hi Julie~
    I had a horrible experience with my “miricle lamictal”. I was on it for about 20 months. At about 8 months, really felt the full affect. I was blissfully stable.

    Then, three months ago, I took my new script to my pharmacy. They filled my percription w/ a generic formula, and my co-pay went from about $70 to $15. Even though my gut said “no”. The deal was just too good.

    By the end of that month, I was hurled into a full-blown mixed phase. (which by the way, i didn’t even know there was such until I read your book!) I was close to going to my psych, so just waited. When I told him what happend, BOY did he have a reaction. He was furious! He explained that the FDA allows a 20% difference in meds when creating generics. He said, “and guess which way they go.”

    Well, it’s 3 months later, and I am still struggling w/ this episode. Meds are being tweaked pretty oftern.

    I have to say that I truly enjoyed the manic part of my episode when I went back to the pharmacy and they said they’d filled it with generic again.

    I “strongly suggested” that they NOT mess with crazy people’s perscriptions! I couldn’t resist. . .

  • Hi Julie,

    I don’t know about help for the middle class – I’m definitely not in the middle class – but I had some really important news for low income people like Gina who are in the donut hole of Medicare Part D. I learned it this year at a conference, glady. I was VERY concerned about the donut hole but then I learned that if you are “dual eligible,” in other words qualify for or have Medi-Medi, that you do NOT have a donut hole. Wow! Yeah. I know everyone’s situation is different but I was able to “spend down” or cash out whatever money I’m not allowed to have and qualify for MediCal (Medicaid). It’s really been worth it to me too because, as an added perk, if you qualify for Medi-Medi you are also enrolled in something called Special Assistance or Special Help, something like that. Through that program I only pay $3.10 for brand name drugs and $1.05 for generics. It’s a pretty sweet deal. Now they’re switching up the formulary on me in January, which I’m NOT happy about, but I can deal with that. Now I’m just waiting to see if I’m approved for MediCal for 2009. Pray for me!

    Michelle :)

  • I had a boyfriend that I fell madly in love with and we were just perfect for one another, had a wonderful relationship! I was in the process of a divorce, he was legally separated and still is. Due to his religious beliefs, he decided to give it a “try” with his wife by going to counsoling, etc. Being a Co-Dependent leader at our church, he is highly thought of and the church encouraged him to give it a try. I could not quit e-mailing, etc. which obstructed his boundaries that I knew nothing about and he put an “Order of Protection” against me which is always for a year unless he would cancel it. This means no contact and I cannot even attend our church as it is their policy in case there would be a problem, etc. I know I deserve the consequences, but not for a whole year! I feel he did not want waves with his wife and did not want the temptation in seeing me. My question is does Bi-Polar (he is) have anything to do with this behavior and if so, what is your best answer for me to this situation that has broken my heart. By the way, he does not love his wife, guess it’s some sort of stability and he lives separately from her. Thank you for the opportunity of sharing and hope to hear a response soon! Molly

  • Michelle Johnson

    Please tell me where, if any, I can get assistance with paying for my daughter’s prescriptions of Lamictal. It has been proven that she cannot take generic and remain seizure free. Please help us! She is paying $120 a month for two separate dosages. Please contact me at Johnsonmycat@aol.com. My daughter is 23, works and finally leads a normal life with the help of Lamictal but she is struggling to pay the co-pays.

    Thank you,

    Michelle Johnson

    • Hello Michelle,

      Glaxo Smith Kline has a program for reduced medication costs. Here is the link. http://www.gskforyou.com/ You have perfect timing as this is my latest blog for BP Magazine. I’ll put the link up here on the site tomorrow. I have a new insurance plan and found out that it doesn’t cover my old meds. Wow!

      To be honest, $120 copay for the brand Lamictal is incredibly cheap. The medications themselves can be thousands a month depending on the dose.

      Don’t give up hope! I will send you an email when I’ve finished the blog. I’m writing it today. Julie

  • Maralyn

    Hi Julie,

    I have taken lamictal since 2004 as my primary mood stabilizer. Like many others, I have tried to switch to generic lamictal on multiple occasions. Many times my bipolar symptoms return stronger and I have even been hospitalized. This year my prescription drug company refuses to pay for name brand lamictal or Wellbutrin XL. With my co-pay benefits it will cost me more than $3000 for a 90 day supply of lamictal. And, this is with some benefit assistance.

    I tried the link about that you provided, however it does not appear to be working. The other challenge is that I would not be considered low income; however, I cannot afford $12,000 per year for lamictal. I take a combination of meds in order to keep me stable.

    I’m currently awaiting a response to an appeal that I filed with the prescription company. So far it looks like my company’s not going to budge on the plan. As long as a generic equivalent is offered the name brand will no longer be available for a 90 day $90 co-pay. I wish the generics worked for me, they just don’t!

    Today, I felt so defeated! I wonder why I should even bother. I even have a plan. That is very scary for me!

    Can you offer any other suggestions?

    Thank you for being so transparent and making this information available for everyone!

  • Robin

    If anyone finds anything out on buying brand name Lamictal please let me know!

    • Hello Robin, It’s always a dilemma when the generic version does not work. Brand Lamictal is one of the most expensive drugs on the market, but you can petition your insurance company and prove that the generic version does not work and sometimes they will approve the brand name. This was because when generic Lamictal (lamotrigine) came out, there were some concerns about the make-up of the generics. Now, that the generic version has been perfected and works for most people, insurance companies are not as likely to allow you to switch to the brand-name option. This is why you have to prove that it doesn’t work for you. I should note here that if the generics didn’t work for you in the past, there is a chance they might work for you now.
      If you have determined that the lamotrigine does not work for you and you do not have insurance, you can contact Glaxo Smith Kline and ask them about their medication discount program, but it can still be quite expensive. Another route is to ask if your healthcare professional can obtain some samples, but this is not a long-term solution. Another option is to look for authentic drugs from Canada, but you have to be very careful and make sure that the quantity is clear. Sometimes, you find that the drugs are a lot cheaper, but it turns out to be for only half the amount. Good luck! Julie

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