Generic Lamictal (lamotrigine) for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder and Medication Woes: Generic Lamictal ( Lamotrigine)

This is a long newsletter as it is a long story about bipolar disoder and genetic medications!  This is a past story that is still relevant.

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Have you noticed that bipolar disorder can sneak up on you in so many ways? I’m always amazed when it sneaks up on me and I get sick no matter how carefully I manage the illness. For the past few weeks, I’ve had a terrifically difficult time working. I have also been really hard on myself. I kept saying, “What is wrong with me! Why can’t I just sit down and finish this book project! It’s only about 20 hours of work and then I can get another book deal! Why am I putting off something that completely affects my future?” This went on for weeks. I just assumed I was being lazy. But I know I’m not a lazy person!

I also found myself spending a lot more time alone – and I’m a very social person. My brain just seemed to shut off. I floated around a lot.  There was little creativity and I had trouble sitting down. I then had trouble with anger and got mildly manic a few times. I started to twitch and felt really itchy. And still… I was hard on myself for not getting things done!

I got out of the house and saw friends- but everything was a struggle. I used all of the tips in my books and that kept me functioning. Soon, I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. I was so restless. But I was also super tired! Then the depression started. It was the kind of depression where I not only felt hopeless, I cried a lot and had trouble completing tasks. I have been like this many times in my life, so I kept going, but it was hard.

Finally, I went to visit a writing friend of mine a few hours away from my house. I had anxiety on the way there and had trouble deciding if I should spend the night or come back and sleep in my own bed. I couldn’t sit and then started twitching again. I alternately felt ok and then anxious. And then it hit me…. it had to me by meds. If you have been following my medication situation on the blog, you will know I switched to generic Lamictal in December.  This is actually called generic Lamotrigine. When I got back from my friend’s house- I had such a bad downswing I had to call my mom, my coauthor John, my insurance company and my doctor to help me. They all agreed it was my meds.

I did a LOT of research to check on the efficacy of generics. I was told they have the same active ingredients, but that the way they metabolize in the body can differ with each person. The active ingredients may have been the same, but the way the medication went into my body didn’t work. I’m now back to my Lamictal and am starting to feel better. I also feel relief that it wasn’t me- it was the generic Lamictal not metabolizing in my body. This is the reversal of the typical, it’s not you, it’s me!  Ha ha.

Generics work for most people- my mom, a friend and many people who read this blog are on generic Lamictal with no problems. There is a long discussion regarding this topic on the blog. If you go to the right menu and click on Lamictal, you will see the entries and comments.

I wrote this long newsletter for a few reasons- first, we have to be so vigilant (as do the people around us) and notice the signs of illness way before they go too far. I had been doing much better work wise for almost a year, so when it got though, I should have seen that there was something wrong. Also, isolating myself is not the real me and I am very rarely tired. There is a long list of what I could have seen. I also knew in my heart that generics were not right for me as I am ridiculously sensitive to medications.  The person with bipolar disorder and the people around that person are the best tools for managing the illness. When I got out my Health Cards and looked over my symptoms, I saw so many signs that I was ill. I wish I had opened  The Health Cards sooner!

I am doing quite well these days. It’s great. Now I can finally get my book proposal done and be proud of myself!

FYI:  The brand Lamical is made by Glaxo Smith Kline. It’s an anti convulsant that is especially effective for treatment resistant depression. It also helps my rapid cycling, hypomania, OCD, psychotic and ADHD symptoms! This is why I got so ill with the generic lamtrigine. Whether you take Lamictal or the lamotrigine works for you, as it does many people – it truly is a miracle drug and I hope it works as well for you as it does for me.

Julie

A final note: I want to reiterate that I am not against generic medications at all! I just want all of us to monitor symptoms very carefully whenever we change meds or try new meds. We know our bodies best!

 PS: If you like this post and find it helpful, please click on the like button below. You can also post it to your Facebook page, Twitter account or send it to a friend.

46 comments to Generic Lamictal (lamotrigine) for Bipolar Disorder

  • Hi Julie,

    I hate generics. I know they’re touted as being wonderful because they’re cheaper and “the same thing” but they’re not. I have had bad side effects on them that I didn’t have on the brand name. Also, my doctor told me over the summer that, according to the FDA, the generic only has to come within 20% of the amount of active ingredient in the brand name drug. So if you’re taking 100mg Lamictal, your generic lamotrigine could be 80mg or 120mg and you’ll never know! They’re not required to tell you and pharmacies switch manufacturers of generics quite often going with whichever one bids lowest. This puts our health at a major risk. So my doc was able to put through a prior authorization for me to get brand name Lamictal instead of the generic my insurance wanted to force me to try this year. Good luck and glad to hear that you’re back to yourself again.

    Love, Michelle

  • Rachel

    I was prescribed generic Lamictal 9 days ago and started to not be able to function 3 days ago. I had headaches, nausea, and labile mood swings. Thank you for your post because it confirmed what I already thought, which was that the generic Lamictal was not working for me. After going to see my Dr. today that suspicion was confirmed. The manufacturur that is, at this time, making generic Lamictal has been making a lot that people have been reacting to. They are allowed to only have a certain percentage of active drug ingredients in their formula. Anyway, I hope that people with reactions to the generic will read this site. It came up for me when I googled “generic lamictal” and I’m really grateful! Thanks!

    Hi Rachel,

    wow, there are SO many different sides to this story. I have heard from people throughout the industry and most say that the formula has to be the same, and yet too many of us are having trouble! I can’t seem to get an exact answer as to why this is happening- but it’s happening. I will keep getting more info and put it on the blog! Thank you for your story and I’m glad you found an answer! Julie

  • Lindsay

    I had the SAME experience and am extremely angry about the lost time and depression I suffered because of generic Lamictal. I started taking Lamictal last January and switched to the generic last August. I didn’t know that the medications could act on my system differently, and by the time I figured it out, I had lost five months of my life racking my brain for answers as to why I was so depressed. I hope people are aware of this and be extremely vigilant about getting the medications that they need.

  • Aisha

    Hi, Julie -
    I sure wish I’d seen your newsletter before I let my doctor switch me to lamotrigine. I don’t know if what I’ve been taking is made by Teva, but it’s been awful, just like what you experienced. When I called my doctor for an “emergency” appt last week, and described what had been getting progressively worse over the past month,he clearly didn’t credit the generic with the profoundly negative changes I’ve been having, saying these types of responses to generic Lamictal are “very rare.” That’s not what my research (including your newsletter) shows, though. I managed to get him to give me a script for Lamictal, and I hope it doesn’t take long to kick in. How long was it for you? I’m just relieved that, once again, it’s NOT ME, but the bipolar. I wholeheartedly agree with what Lindsay wrote in February. The following blog entry gave addresses and phone numbers to report experiences with the FDA: “Did you know that you can report these problems (called “adverse events”) directly to the FDA? Go to “http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/” ;

    Ask your doctor to report this. If he/she is reluctant to do it then you can report it yourself. Reports can be made by healthcare providers or by consumers (patients). You can submit a written form or online form.

    The written form is at:
    http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/safety/FDA-3500_f

    The online form is at:
    https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwat

    They say it’s for serious adverse events including “therapy inequivalence/failure”. I’d say that’s exactly the problem with the generic forms of this medication. The doses are not “equivalent” to the brand-name.

    Generics are legally required to be equivalent to the brand-name in both the active ingredient and the dosage. There is an acceptable range (in other words – no pill is going to be 100.00% accurate), but from the symptoms people are reporting it sounds like a lot of the time the generics are not within the acceptable range. Or else the FDA’s range needs to be re-set so people aren’t having these problems.

    Several different companies make the generics, so be sure to report the name of the generic company (if that’s listed on your bottle) or copy down all the numbers and/or letters on both sides of the pill, give the shape and color of the pill, etc. That way maybe the report will be linked to the company who actually made the pill. By the way, here’s the FDA’s phone number if you have questions: 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332)”

    Hello Aisha,

    WOw, this is great information. I am going to put it on a regular blog tomorrow. I just wrote an article for a NAMI newsletter on this topic. It’s very clear that the NEW generics can be very dangerous- if I didn’t have my treatment plan- I would have gone to the hospital- it was that bad! I was immediately better when I got back on the brand Lamictal. It only took a few days for me to at least start feeling like myself again- the terrible twitching went away within a few days.

    But, as I say in my blogs- others have taken the generics without problem- but we do need to be super careful- The generic lamotrigine is a reality that won’t go away- the insurance companies will make sure of that. What matters is that the FDA gets it regulated. There needs to be a list of facilities that are putting out the bad generics! I am going to pass on your information to everyone I can. I will send it to my mailing list, etc. You have helped a lot of people. Julie

  • susan

    I notice that the date for this was months ago. I am glad I saw this. I thought I was losing it. I am on the max of 300, and have been for over 3 yrs now. I am a single mom with gov insurance. I went back to school and have been doing great, just had midterms and bombed them… They switched me last month, and it is the teva… I don’t care about anything right now :(
    Anyways… thanks for the post- I plan to call my doc on Monday

    • Hi Susan,

      I am SO VERY HAPPY you saw this post. I literally got better in a few days when I went back to my brand Lamictal. I had to call my insurance and explain what happened. My doctors were also willing to support my need for Lamictal. I now have to pay a $70 copay instead of $5, but it’s better than being sick. Good luck- I suggest that you go to the right of the blog and read the entries under Lamictal- there are many that truly explain generics and how the information we receive is often skewed to generic use as it’s less expensive for insurance companies. Please know that I am NOT against generic medications- I know many who take them with no problem- but I do feel that we don’t receive the information needed when we are switched without a list of warning signs the drugs aren’t working. Please keep me posted on this. I hope that you get relief ASAP. Hang in there! Things can get better! Julie

  • Neil Stegall

    Over 14 patients in our mental health practice have developed irritability, depression and mood instability after being forced by insurance to switch the generic lamotrogine. Contrary to what some think, generics are different in terms of bioavailability- absorption- and bioequivalence. The dose is required to be only 80-quite low- to 125% of the plasma concentration of brand name drugs, which must consistently be within the 5% range. There are no clinical studies or random controlled trials for any generics. They can be dangerous. I am working with a lawyer to see if a case can be developed against insurance, pharmaceutical management and pharmacy companies as this constitutes the practice of medicine- making a clinical decision without prescriptive authority, etc. Post if you are interested in considering participation in a possible class action suit. This is for all people on maintenance medication, not simply Lamictal. BTW seizure patients are having difficulty- sometimes life threatening- as well re: generic lamotrogine.

  • My 16 year old daughter is on generic Lamontrigine because we use government insurance. The pharmacist will always give us the generic unless we make a fuss and pay extra for it. My daughters symptoms improved when I started giving her my meds, brand name,Lamictal when her prescription ran out….(yes I know, I wont let it happen again)
    Now I realise how important it is to make a BIG FUSS and pay extra for the brand name. We live in Canada and none of the doctors think there is any difference between generic and band name. If you can use less of any medication, that is a very important factor to consider.

  • Jen

    I finally have the answer!!! I have spent the last month VERY sick! Stomach pain, extreme nausea, extreme fatigue (to the point of falling asleep anywhere!), headache, dizziness/spacey feeling, crying spells and irritability /lashing out. I have spent over $1,000 on doctors and blood tests trying to figure out why I was having the stomach pains, nausea and fatigue. I was thinking it was my thyroid or stomach cancer or something along those lines! All the tests have come back normal. Then this morning it dawned on me… I was on Lamictal for 4 years and switched to generic a month ago!!! BINGO! I haven’t felt this excited and alive in a month! Maybe now I can get my life back and be the mother and wife I was before! Everything has gone to crap since this started. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

  • Bobbi

    Meds don’t like me..period. However, since reading this blog, I’ve begun to think that MAYBE the generic factor could be why I react to meds the way I do. Nearly ALL of the meds I’ve tried have been generic! The pharmacists have convinced me that generics are exactly the same—or are supposed to be. Hmmm…..Really appreciated the researched info and websites. I would also like to know what changed for you and how you knew the Lamictal was working. Could you think better? Was your anxiety better or what? Did it help you to sleep? Right now I feel like the only alternative I have is to just ‘grit my teeth’ and bear it on my own.

  • Jen

    I have been off of the lamotrigine for 48 hours now. I feel like I’m going to crawl out of my skin!!!! I’m having to take valium to keep it under control. This is awful. I would have never switched if I had known this would have happened. Luckily I had a few days of Lamictal left over and have been able to take that. But today I get to go spend $215 on meds! Why should any med cost this much??? Anyway, I just hope I’m on my way towards recovery.

  • susan

    Susan again.
    My doc had given me a bunch of samples, and planned on trying to give me the chewables, but the insurance wouldn’t cover it. By the time the samples were gone- I was out of school for winter break and I decided just to go ahead with the generic… well. another midterm is here, and I am bombing again. things are a mess around my house, and I feel liek I don’t care- but I do (if that makes sense). I thought I would be fine going back to school, I just hadn’t realized how down I was over the holidays. Anyways. I have panicked trying to reach my doc, I even left her a note telling her how crazy things have been. and I feel like I am being a whiney hiney. I just stopped trying to call her.

    I honestly have noooo probs with taking generic meds-I had thought that maybe over the holidays I might adjust to it… it didn’t happen. I agree that some people can take generics with no problem- I think that’s great! I didn’t realize it as the problem until I was able to step back and say, “hey, what’s going on here?” I know I felt sooooo much better when I got the samples, it was like only within a day or so of switching over that I could tell. but now…

    I am 2 semesters away from grad- this is last semester of classes, & next intern. I just want to quit. I can handle generic tylonol and stuff like that, but geeze- they are messing with my head here. grrrrr. I shouldn’t do it- but I think I am going to have to find out how much it costs and buy it myself (at least until the semester is over). I am rambling all over the place here.

    I have tried to talk with friends- but none of them have to take meds- they are trying to be encouraging, but I feel like they just don’t get it.
    see, here I am, I am suppose to be working on my capstone it’s almost midnight and I am super side-tracked. Dare I say anything about my kids!!!they don’t mind it when I am like this- except when I snap- but I either don’t care if they pick up after themselves- or I am out buying new dvds (and I like cartoons because I am too young for R movies- joke).

    This is a really good page- I accidently found it again! It’s funny… I was trying to figure out what to dx my fictitous client with for my capstone (been trying to dx her for about a month now-yeah a month). talk about sidetracking, I was looking at schizophrenia, then came across bipolar, then began researching to see if it would fit her, began tweaking her character (for about the 10th time) got back on the net- ran into medications, then found and I was reading the bipolar stuff, began tweaking with her again- then thought of my goofy situation so I began thinking about me and forgot all about adele (my character-poor gal). started looking at the generic stuff again—-and here you are. funny hu? midterms just like before too. It is wild- even the time of the post is about the same…

    I read my post earlier, I don’t think I am as down as I was then-its like I could throw my hands in the air and say, “I’m done!” But- logically, that would be insane on its own. Yeah, think I am going to check to see if I can get enough meds to get me through the rest of the semester. I have so many dead lines, it’s unbelievable- and I am not even close to ready for any of them.

    I think I will go with bipolar for her :) Maybe I can give her the same situation as mine- that way I can come up with the policy… boy I’m on a role now. But I will most likely be sent on another adventure with the way my mind is going.

    I will stop typing now. this is getting to be a lot of hyper rambling. thanks for letting me vent.

    & thanks for this site
    susan

  • Robin

    I am so happy to have read this! I have been on lamictal for 10 years and it is a miracle drug for my bi polar. However s couple of years ago I was forced to go on the generic by my insurance which I receive thru the state. I had horrible mood swings and other patients in my drs practice experienced similar side effects. I was given samples of the orally disintegrating tablets which worked beautifully, especially bcuz I had a gastric bypass years ago and the absorption was better. My provider has sent over 10 PAs to masshealth requesting that I be put on the odt form, and they continue to deny me. The dr runs very low on samples so I am stuck taking the generic and feeling mentally horrible. Sometimes I feel as though I should just stop taking the med all together!

  • Sarah

    Glad I found this blog. I start on Lamictal for my bipolar 6 weeks ago. For the first 5 weeks I was using the Lamictal tiltration starter pack. I was doing great the last couple weeks tha I was on that. I started on the generic a week ago, and since from the evening of the first dose of it, my depression has been much worse, my agitation is coming back, and I’ve been extremely tired yet having dificult sleeping. I am definitely going to do what I can to get back on the name brand ASAP

    • Hello Sarah,

      I too am glad you found this. Health care professionals and insurance companies need to tell us the pros and cons of generics. I am not against generics, I am on a few right now (not Lamictal), but these have been on the market for almost 20 years.

      The older anti depressants seem to be the best generics. As a note, my mom takes the generics just fine and we have the same body chemistry- so who knows why it happens!

      I am truly happy the blog helped you.

      Hopefully the depression will be better soon. Julie

  • Cynthia

    I just want to say that I am one of the people who are very med sensitive. I have been on Lamictal, brand and had to try generic because of insurance …it was definitely different. Like I hadn’t taken any med at all. I got back on brand name Lamictal and got better. Just this week, I ran out and had only the generic to fall back on. This time I have felt “out of it” and fell down while trying to stand up after a nap. My heart is pounding too. I have just had this strange feeling all day. I called to have my brand name refilled and get it tomorrow. I know without a doubt there is a big difference. I wish all doctors and mental health practitioners would know this. Oh. The twitching also. I take it for bipolar but don’t like feeling these brain zap things. Thanks for your site.

  • The power of suggestion is often effective. I hope those of us on Lamotrigine will not start to believe that the genetic medicine has stopped working for them.

    • Monique Jones

      I was on abilify which made my hair fall out and xanex which made me feel like a zombie. I quit taking those meds last October on my own I know that wasn’t the best idea but I didn’t know what else to do. I finally got back in to see a new dr since my old one resigned. She said she thinks Lamictal would be perfect for my BiPolar II, Depression , and OCD. I was given the generic version snd after reading all tthis I must say I’m scared to take this medicine. I was off work for a year because of depression I’ve only been back six months and I’m going through a divorce that I don’t want. So I feel myself falling back into a depression that’s the only reason I seeked out a new dr. To get back on medication before I get worse. But, now after reading this I feel like I will get worse before I get better.

  • Emily

    Ahhhhh the memories of my adolesence! I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder at the age of 16 after 1-2 years of people not knowing what in the world was wrong with me! While normal teenagers are hanging out with friends going to school and excited about prom etc…I was SICK! All I knew was agonizing misery! I don’t have to go into much detail as y’ll feel me here on this site ( which happens to be one of the first resouces me and my amazing mother who took care of me during those years used for support!)…but I remember the fear, psycotic voices condeming me in my head, the crazy “icy” high mania that dragged me with it, the depression that took me down into the deepest abyss, the mixedepisodes/rapid cycling that confused my life into torment,…and all the changing of my meds and switching of psychiatrists, etc. I remember being prescribed generic lamotrigine after being on Lamictal for months as a 16/17 year old. I felt like one of those lab rats being experimented on…as in how much can we set this little insignificant rodent back on this cheap placebo after improving her life on this crazy expensive brand name drug that actually works????? Literally at the least it didnt help me…at the most…in fact truth be told it made me much WORSE!!!! It took me taking the stupid generic for over a month and suffering the whole time to PROVE to my doctor that it wasnt doing any good for me! I am almost 26 now, and still WILL NOT go back on the generic no matter what!!!!!!!!
    Awesome to see my fellow Bipolar-ians getting help and support and information from this wonderful site! I have been stable for years now on a lovely combination of Lamictal, Seroquel XR, and Focalin XR :). I made it through college with a fight by the grace of God (YAY!) and am now a Licensed Practical Nurse working at a drug addiction long term outpatient medication assisted treatment clinic. I love it soooooo much that I get to help people with mental-related issues after all Ive been through :D!!!!!!!!! For all of you still on the arduous journy to becoming well and happy, know this: THERE IS A LIGHT AT THE END OF THIS LOOOOONG DARK TUNNEL :D! May God bless you all! I keep you all in my prayers! Thank you Susan for this site!
    Emily, LPN :)

  • Gary

    FINALLY, I have some good information to make my decision to stop taking this generic (Lamotrigine). I started and completed a 11 month taper down program to get off of Lorazepam that I took for 6 years after being prescribed it for acute anxiety. Come to find out thats about 5 years and 11 months too long, thats another story though. So due to the extreme challenges of getting off of those after trying to stop cold turkey on my own and ending up in a intense rehab joint, my Dr tried honestly to help me and suggested I try Lamictal and Buspar to help ease my misery. I also got the generic Busparone for the Buspar. Well I think it may have made it worse, but never going through this before I just chalked it all up to being a part of this most agonizing hell on earth experience. And as you all know that is putting it quite mildly. I could fill up the rest of this box with cuss words and terrible feelings that you would never wish on anyone.
    FYI, I am also on Crestor, Synthroid and Lunesta all of which are the real thing, but these ones to fix your brain end up getting substituted for generics and from what I read are doing a real number on people. I cannot describe with words the feeling in my head sometimes. Like someone said above the only escape is with a valium or or benzo type drug. She is right!
    One more FYI, I did not need the Lunesta before the Lamogitrine and Busparone.
    It may have not been so bad if I did not have to keep functioning at my job, be a husband, father and try to keep up with life as a whole. But when you are taking a drug that you are positive will help you escape the firestorm in your head or the torment in your soul and it does not give relief you just have to stay the course. Well, thats what I did and it costs me very very much pain and suffering.
    This is a real time post, I have read and re read most of these about 5 hours ago and tonight I will be stopping my Lamotrigine. I was taking 100 mg in the am and 100 mg 12 hours later. I have cut back to 50mg each time and now I’ve been at 25mg for the last 3 days. I have never had the real drug, only the generic, but since I still feel very bad since I have been off of the Diazepam for 14 days I think it is safe to say that there is a very good chance that this would be the cause. My symptoms are so much like all of those mentioned above that when I read and re read them I have hope and confidence that I will find some relief.
    I do run, eat well, pray, have a counselor and trusted people to talk with as a matter of fact, I’m not solely relying on the drugs to fix me. But when all of that and the drugs leave you in you in the same rotten place its time to change something that you are doing.
    I hope this gets posted, I don’t know if all of them do, but I am having difficulty finishing my thoughts, that is one of my ongoing battles with these things I am taking. So I’m going to say good night and hope that each day with this product out of my system is what does the job.
    I will let you know.

    Gary

    • Gary

      Please let me know if there are things that will keep my post from being posted. I have never done this sort of thing before. I am sure glad I was able to find this information.
      I want help and I want to be of help.

      Thanks,
      Gary

      • Hi Gary -
        All comments that relate to the blog are posted. I try to answer as many questions as possible, but it’s also great when readers answer questions too. So, if you see posts that speak to your experience and you have some helpful insight to share, please feel free to answer.
        Regards,
        Julie

  • The very crux of your writing whilst sounding reasonable initially, did not really settle perfectly with me personally after some time. Someplace within the paragraphs you actually managed to make me a believer but only for a very short while. I nevertheless have got a problem with your leaps in logic and you might do well to fill in all those breaks. In the event you actually can accomplish that, I will definitely be impressed.

  • Kathy

    My daughter is on lamotrigine and is having horrible memory issues. She is very sensitive to meds and metabolizes meds very differently.

    Her pnurse doesn’t think there is a difference between the generic and name brands – everything I read tells me this memory thing is caused by the meds.

    I’m wondering if anyone has seen any improvements going to the name brand.

  • Aisha Robins

    Hi – I’ve been taking brand Lamictal for six years and have been going great. At one point, my psychiatrist put me on the generic lamotrigine – cold turkey switch – and I had some of the known side-effects: dizziness, tremors, non-cohesive thinking. I went back to Lamictal and everything gradually evened out and I was good again. Fast forward to now and finally having enough with the oh-so-high cost of the brand ($1,600 for a three-month supply). So, I thought, “I’ll try switching to the generic slowly, starting at 1-1/2 Lamictals (300mg) and 1/2 Lamotrigine (100mg). Everything went fine for three weeks, so I split the two half and half. After one week, depression started pulling me down, almost to the point where I was before I “found” Lamictal. My life circumstances are pretty rocky right now (I’m an Air Force civilian at a base that’s eliminating its civilians so I’m moving back to the states from an island in the Atlantic (which I’ve LOVED). So, HUGE upheaval. I was handling this fine before I got onto the mix, so I’m going to go back to only Lamictal (I’m not going to try the 1-1/2 to 1/2 because I know my mood was deteriorating from the beginning – it didn’t just start when I went to the 1/2-1/2. (by the way, I tried the Canadian Lamictal because it’s about 1/3 the cost. It doesn’t look the same as the U.S. product, but neither company could tell me how they compare. I did fine with it, though, so I think I’ll mix those two. It’ll save me “only” about $500 [$1,000 for three months is still exorbitant!], but it’s better than nothing. In case you’re not aware of this, some insurance companies will increase the co-pay if your psychiatrist sends them one of their forms to justify why you have to take the brand.)

  • daphne

    I have been takeing the genetic for Lamictal for many years. Recently I have thought to myself “is this really working?” Then I came across this blog. I don’t even know if Kaiser offers Lamictal or if they will only give me that generic. I really want to try the Lamictal because I have never had it and am thinking it might really work for me. I am so grateful for this website. I really want to try the cards but don’t have the money. I am going through a terrible divorce, not due to my bi-polar. I am a single Mom now and I have a hard time managing money, I overspend, It is like an addiction and a “high” I don’t know how to stop but being a single Mom now I cannot afford to keep doing this.
    I was wondering which of your books you would recommend first and maybe where I can get them for free or at a discount. My ex never tried to understand it. So it was very hard. Now I am on my own and still trying to make sense of it. I was diagnosed some 20 years ago. Any advise Julie??
    Thank you
    Daphne

    • Hi Daphne! Thanks for your comment. It’s so easy to wonder if a med is working when it is actually working. I’ve fallen into that trap a lot. If you are stable- it’s working. If you can see a distinct change since starting the generic lamotrigine, it’s working. (It’s so important to chart moods daily so that you will have data to use when you’re not doing well.)

      But, if nothing has changed since you started- there are a few areas to explore.

      1. Dosage change- Lamictal (lamotrigine) has a HUGE dosing range. For example, my mom takes 125mg of the generic lamotrigine for negative depression and my brother is on 350 mg of Lamictal for the same thing. I’m on 700 mg. It stopped working for me at 500- it works at 700 mg.

      2. The generic Lamictal, lamotrigine has been out a long time now- it was a mess when it first came out- but seems to have normalized. This is what usually happens. If you try the dosage change and still don’t see a mood improvement- I would ask to try the Lamictal brand. As far as meds go, it’s the best in terms of efficacy and low side effects!

      3. There are no other drugs on the market like Lamcital- this is why I suggest it for everyone. Don’t forget- you will read about the serious rash- it is real- but it’s incredibly rare. Just be careful- start with small doses under health care supervision and hopefully it will change your life as it has mine!

      Let me know how it goes!

      Julie

  • linda

    My husband’s lamotrigine dosage changed and he was switched to from apo lamotrigine to pms lamotrigine. he immediately started experiencing headaches, spaciness, speech problems and falling asleep at the drop off a hat. Thankfully after a week of this he talked to our pharmacist and got back on the apo. within two days the symptoms have cleared up.

  • Jeanette

    I take generic lamotrigine and do awesome on it. It has made a huge difference in my approach to life. However I’m one of the lucky people who don’t really get side affects from medication and usually do pretty well with what I’m prescribed.

  • Fahim

    Hi Julie ,
    Thank you for your post it is very informative and am sure it will be of help for many with Bi -Polar.. But as you take (generic) lamotrigine , you need to take plenty of liquid , fruits & vegetable , and you also need to make sure your postures how you sit esp. at your PC while you work ,you need to let yourself sag like socks & relax, at least once a month a body massage will be very helpful ,if a full body massage is expensive ,then I recommend a head, neck ,shoulder & face massage, a daily face steam for about 5 minutes will really refresh you & of cause if possible you have time a daily bath will help a lot ,water is life and the best known therapy ,this is one of the reasons some religions have ablution before prayers or meditation it helps you refresh psychologically, if it is inconvenient , then every time you go out & return home use a towel with warm water & massage your face ,hands up to your elbows ,your neck ,ears & the legs up to your feet under & have a fresh juice or plain water, drink plenty of water as much as you can, do not listen to loud heavy metal music , don’t touch cigarettes, cannabis,& not one drop of alcohol, and do not go jogging, but do as much as possible when it is not hot outside, do slow and calm walking (No brisk walk)..
    Always take your meds with super , the worst damage is not getting enough sleep for people on any antidepressants , do not try to compromise your sleep , after supper give yourself about one hour ,you can walk around inside the house or if it is convenient outside, but you should be in bed not later than 9 pm, you will easily wake up by 4.30 to 5 am, wash up and go for a short walk , comeback relax and have a good milk and cereal with some fruits, a cup of tea with milk is ok, but no coffee(It is poison for people on antideps)… whatever faith you are try to say a little prayer every morning & night before you go to sleep, if you consider yourself an atheist ,agnostic ,or free thinker ,then some soothing Music & close your eyes & let yourself go lying down or sitting comfortable with proper posture ,& avoid discussing your situation to people who have no idea of being depressed ,they could cause you more damage, try to build a circle of your own ,it would be the best source of counselling.
    finally never increase or reduce the dosage or stop completely without your doctors advice , the most dangerous thing is withdrawals .
    Remember only you can help yourself mostly.
    God Bless

  • JaneD

    There IS something VERY wrong with this generic!! I thought it was in my head at first. I had been taking the brand name for 8 years when I was given the Teva generic. I experienced terrible symptoms right away and I was suicidal complete with a plan! I had never felt that way before. I called my dr right away and he prescribed me Lamictal ODT tabs and my insurance covered it since there is no generic (and I just saw online a generic for ODT has been approved in August so there will soon be another crappy generic we are forced to take). I plan to have my dr fill out a prior authorization form for me to get the brand name and I’m PRAYING my insurance will consent to it. I bet they don’t deal with this drama in nations with universal healthcare, just in nations where the bottom line is the most important thing. It is so discouraging and depressing to know they won’t hear us, but I filed a report with the FDA anyway. There is strength in numbers. Get your doctors to fill out prior authorizations forms for the brand name! No need to suffer in silence.

  • daphne

    I talked to my Dr. and he said when Kaiser switched to generic he got NO complaints from his patients. That is all I have to go by. However I am switching insurance soon and I pray to god they have the real thing so at least I can try it. I have never been able to even try it to know what the difference may be. I went from Lithium to Lamotrigne.

  • Peter smith

    Hi Julie,
    Read all the above comments. Confirms my issue.
    Was on the brand, Lamictal when first diagnosed, 4 years ago. Instant change!!!
    Was off meds for 2 years and then started again 2 years ago but with the generic – it went well and made a significant difference, but in hindsight (the last week)it is not in comparison with the brand. I have stayed on the generic – HOWEVER a month ago something went very wrong and my body flipped out on a batch – it’s like someone gave me half a xanax every day, sudden spouts of slight nausea, fatigue – unusually bad recovery rate when exertion during cardio exercise ( I’m in the fitness world and fitter than 90% of the planet)- headaches, ( which i never ever get!!) dizziness/SPACEY FEELING, emotional and irritability /lashing out.

    I’ll spare you the burden of my journey over the last month and besides it’s exhausting to write it through, since im still in the mist.
    Through my research over the last week and the help of your blog I have that getting on the brand is my ONLY option.
    My question is I would like to take advantage of the new Obama health plan so i can get insurance and get on the brand ASAP.
    Might you suggest my most affective route to take care of this in terms of who to call – what insurance co to call etc…?

    Thanks for your blog and look forward to your response.

    Warmest
    Peter

  • One more issue is that video gaming has become one of the all-time biggest forms of recreation for people of any age. Kids participate in video games, and adults do, too. The actual XBox 360 has become the favorite gaming systems for people who love to have a lot of games available to them, along with who like to relax and play live with some others all over the world. Thank you for sharing your thinking.

  • I am 71 yrs young bipolar.I found that once I was switched from lithum to lamitcal my emotional pattern changed. I can not cry.I reacently lost my husband of 53 years .No tears no crying.The same think happened when I had to put his lab down.Anyone else have this problem??

  • samE

    Been off lamictal for 2 years just went back on seven weeks ago I started taking my old lamictal at first not sure if it was generic or not… saw a doc with Kaiser, horrible woman who u absolutely can’t talk to not even sure how she got her degree anyways started taking 100mg generic a week ago… been expericing headaces and back to my irritability issues and a little depression… which makes me sad because after 3 weeks of starting the meds for about a 2 week gap I felt so amazing, so loving to my newish husband and talk about increased labido! But back to my old self my husband said he tried not to get to used to the happy me and my 6 year old says back to my grouchy mommy :( I definitely can’t afford name brand. What a tease I feel a little helpless as I have a good life a good family but I’m this irritable moody depressed person and I can’t help it. These generic meds dnt make me feel very good so looks like no meds is the option.

  • Maralyn

    Has anyone tried Lamictal XR? Is there a difference? Is it considered generic now also?

  • Janet

    After I read posts on generic lamictal, I went to my pill bottles and discovered the drug company had switched from Teva to Unichem as the manufacturer. Has anyone noticed a difference with Unichem? I’ve been fine on the generic up until now (a couple of years), but realize I’m going through another up and down cycle — two months of intense activity for an art show and now with a few suicidal thoughts, extreme fatigue — sleeping or trying to sleep 12 hours, and recently just sitting around reading, isolating and not wanting to do much of anything. I keep thinking I’m just tried and will snap out of it, but it scares me a lot. Help!

    • Hello Janet, It’s great that you are taking charge of your medications. If you read the replies to the other comments on this lamictal post- you’ll notice that I always say the same thing. We have to know the difference between side effects, triggers and symptoms. It could be the art show that is causing the issues and not the medication change. The only way to know is to go back to when you changed the meds and see if the changes happened before the art show. It sounds like you’re in a typical depression down swing- it could be the meds change, but it’s more likely that you’re in a bipolar disorder cycle due to life triggers. What do you think? Julie

  • hughes

    I was switched by my pharmacy crom the blue diamond lamictrogine to a white flat pill. I tried to get the brand name and with it was 700. So I came home with what they gave me. Super super irritated and nausea with headaches (which I dont get). Overall very tired and feel like I have the flu. Some body aches. Laid in bed the last few days too tired and sick to stay up. Just dont feel good. It all happened this week. I’ve only been taking it for 7 days. Have to figure out how to get some type of med because insurance wont prescribe anothef month because it was just filled. This is awful.

    • Hello! It’s hard enough to have to take the darn meds for this illness without them changing formulas- but it’s a reality. I’ve heard enough stories to know that generics- different brands and especially different manufacturing countries can make a difference. Luckily, what you’re talking about sounds like side effects. Your body can adjust to the new meds if that is the issue. My experience was a bit different as I didn’t have side effect problems (for once!)- the meds simply didn’t get into my system. Generic lamictal is much better now as it has been more regulated. I took it the first month it came out. Is the medication actually working for you? If so, I suggest waiting it out. Please keep me posted! Julie

  • Janet

    Hi Monique,
    I was concerned about the switch in manufacturing companies for generic Latictal. Julie suggested my distress might be situational, and sure enough it was. I am back on track leading a happy and busy life on my new generic Lamictal I’ve had no side effects from the generic, and I’ve been taking it for 10 years. For some reason, it works beautifully for me — keeps me stable. I know everyone is different, but I thought I’d just share a positive experience with it. It sounds as if you have a lot of difficult things going on right now

  • Patrick

    I am not sure where to begin. I was on Lamictal for a good number of years (2001-2010), but was switched to Lamotrigine due to Lamictal not being in Kaiser Permanente’s formulatory. The switch happened twice. I was able to go back to Lamictal due to some vary obvious changes in my mood. After a while the change was permanent and I had to take Lamotrigine. I tried to do research in the difference between the brand and generic with little on bipolar patients but a few on epilepsy patients. I feel a difference between the two meds and think there tend to be more side effects (acid reflux and insomnia). Doctors and pharmacists are of the opinion that they are made up the same way, just one is cheaper than the other. I wonder if there has been any actual research the doctors can reference. What are the changes? more wired, more spacy, talking out loud, awkward social engagements, more irritable, overall not the same. It is amazing that I have been able to function and hold a good job. I have switched over to Foreign Service Benefit because I now live in Italy and am hoping to get back on Lamictal again.

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