Physicians’ attitudes toward generic substitutions of antiseizure drugs in epilepsy

Objectives

The safety of generic substitution of antiseizure drugs (ASDs) has been questioned for many years. This study aimed to identify physicians’ attitudes to the generic substitution of ASDs in epilepsy and which factors were of significance when deciding on compound substitutions.

Material and Methods

A cross-sectional web-based survey was sent to neurologists and neurology residents in public health care and at private practices in two Swedish regions between February and March 2020. The 30-item survey covered drug- and patient-related factors, as well as considerations relating to practical, cost-related, and pharmacokinetic issues.

Results

The total response rate was 55.8%. Respondents were generally positive to cutting costs through generic ASD utilization (74%) and prescribing generic compounds when starting a new ASD treatment (84.9%). The most substantial concern was a deterioration in seizure control (17.1%). Physicians refrained from switching if the patient wished to remain on the original compound (76.1%), had a cognitive impairment (52.5%), was on a drug with a narrow therapeutic index (47%), or had shown prior susceptibility to adverse effects (45.6%). Opinions on substitution decisions differed significantly between the Stockholm and Skåne regions. Less than one-third of the respondents were aware of supporting guidelines.

Conclusions

Neurologists generally accept the use of generic antiseizure compounds. Patient preference to remain on brand-name drug treatment was the most important factor that led to avoiding a switch. Our results may constitute material for consensus discussions to decide on quality indicators of interest for future research on substitution outcomes.

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