‘I nearly died on generic drugs’

Fiona McMahon, who suffers from epilepsy, says inadvertently switching to a generic medication earlier this year could have cost her life.

According to Epilepsy Ireland, Ms McMahon is one of 10 people with epilepsy who have already experienced serious consequences of generic substitution.

The organisation’s chief executive, Michael Glynn, made a final call for an amendment to the Generic Substitution Bill at yesterday’s Oireachtas health committee meeting.

He said anti-epilepsy drugs should not be subject to generic substitution and should be permanently excluded from any legislation.

“It is an issue of life and death for people with epilepsy. It is that serious,” he said.

Deputy chief executive Peter Murphy said some pharmacists, who were confused about the current legal situation, had started giving out generic versions of the same medicine.

Ms McMahon, 43, from Clontibret, Co Monaghan, said she did not know what she was doing when she went out on a dark night last month to walk her dog.

“I was out of the house for 15 minutes with my dog and I don’t remember anything. I was in a highly dangerous situation,” she said.

Ms McMahon said she was aware the pharmacist gave her a generic version of her treatment last December.

Soon after taking the generic drug she started to lose awareness for a few minutes at a time.

A nurse at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, said she must resume her normal medication and contacted her pharmacist.

The Irish Pharmaceutical Union said it could not comment on individual cases.


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