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Epilepsy Patient Prescription Drug Safety

Felix W. Ortiz

WHEREAS, Epilepsy is a health condition that affects over 2,700,000 people in the United States, and around 80,000 people in Puerto Rico, one in every ten Americans will experience a seizure during his or her lifetime, and three percent will eventually develop Epilepsy. Epilepsy can begin at any age, most commonly in children and the elderly; and

WHEREAS, Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurring seizures. A seizure is a sudden, abnormal burst of electrical energy in the brain; and

WHEREAS, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes Epilepsy as a chronic disease and has formulated a public health agenda to target key challenges facing people with Epilepsy; and

WHEREAS, Epilepsy is unlike other medical conditions because of the seriousness of its episodic symptoms. Breakthrough seizures after a long remission can have significant psychosocial and physical consequences such as restrictions placed on driving privileges or limits on employment opportunities. Epilepsy remains a barrier to leading a normal life by affecting education, employment, marriage, childbearing, and personal fulfillment; and

WHEREAS Epilepsy results in an estimated annual cost of $15.5B in medical expenses and lost/reduced earnings and productivity; and

WHEREAS, even one seizure could result in the loss of a driver’s license, or restrictions placed on a license, such as daytime driving and driving only in specified distances, resulting in potential lost income and other productivity-related losses; and

WHEREAS the American Academy of Neurology and the Epilepsy Foundation oppose therapeutic or generic substitution of anti-epileptic medications without prior approval of the patient (or representative) and his or her treating physician; and

WHEREAS individuals living with Epilepsy that receive an alternative drug to the one prescribed by their treating physician, without consent of the physician and patient, may produce life threatening toxicity, incur additional health and public safety risks and increased medical expenditures, including unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations; and

WHEREAS the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators hereby recognizes that individuals with Epilepsy should be allowed an additional protection by requiring informed consent before the interchange or substitution of prescribed medication (be that therapeutic or generic); and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) Executive Committee & Business Board of Advisors assembled in Washington, D.C. on April 21, 2007, that the NHCSL, encourages each of the States to enact the most appropriate steps to include awareness and education of Epilepsy and the importance of proper medication management in controlling seizures.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that NHCSL adopt the position that a Pharmacist may not interchange an Anti-Epileptic Drug (AED) or a formulation of an AED, brand or generic, for the treatment of Epilepsy without prior notification to and the signed (written or electronic signature) informed consent from the prescribing physician and patient, or the patient’s parent, legal guardian or spouse.

This resolution was adopted on April 21, 2007, at the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Executive Committee & BBA Annual Meeting held in Washington, DC.

Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, NY
NHCSL President