Update: February 25, 2020
The Epilepsy Foundation has stayed in contact with the agency in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that handles drug shortages. The agency has been proactively working with the manufacturers of levetiracetam (immediate-release and extended-release) tablets to address the serious situation. While some issues remain, availability is improving.
Check the FDA Drug Shortage Website for News
Originally published November 4, 2019
For a number of months, people have reported occasional problems getting levetiracetam, known as the brand name Keppra, from their pharmacy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now listing a shortage of generic levetiracetam from a few different manufacturers.
What should you do if you are having trouble getting levetiracetam from your pharmacy?
First, make sure you call for a refill of your medicine early, so you don’t run out. If the pharmacy doesn’t have levetiracetam from the same manufacturer that you usually use, try these steps.
- Ask the pharmacist to call other local pharmacies and see if they have what you need.
- The pharmacy can also call the manufacturer directly and find out how to get some shipped quickly.
- If the manufacturer who makes your form of levetiracetam does not have it available or you can’t get it quickly, call your epilepsy doctor or nurse and ask if it is okay to switch to a different generic levetiracetam or if you should change to brand Keppra.
- Please allow plenty of time for your doctor’s office to talk to your pharmacy and insurance company. Extra paperwork or a new prescription may be needed to get your medicine filled.
- Do NOT stop taking your medicine suddenly or lower your dose to make your medicine supply last longer. You could end up having more seizures!
- If you are running low, tell your pharmacist that this medicine is a life-saving medicine and you will need an emergency supply to last a few days.
Is there any problem switching from one form of seizure medicine to another?
Great question. Some people report they had a change in seizures or side effects if they switch from a generic drug to a brand drug, from brand to generic, or from one generic drug to another generic manufacturer. Some seizure medicines are more likely to have this occur than others. Yet most studies have shown no difference in drug levels or amounts in the body for the drugs tested.
The Epilepsy Foundation recommends that people talk to their neurologist or epilepsy specialist about their own situation if a switch from one form of a medicine to another is needed.
How can I get help?
Call the Epilepsy Foundation’s 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-332-1000 if you are having trouble getting your medications.
To look up drug shortages, visit the FDA Drug Shortage Database.
Use the FDA Drug Shortage website to report any new problems.
Stay tuned – we’ll keep you updated on any changes we get!
Patty Osborne Shafer RN, MN
Associate Editor, epilepsy.com