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