Monday, October 3, 2011

Walgreens: It's Where to Get Decent (Teva) Lamotrigine

As I mentioned here, since I wrote about my experiences with the horrible NorthStar version of lamotrigine (generic lamictal), I've noticed that the top google phrases that lead to my blog are things like "NorthStar lamotrigine" and "NorthStar lamotrigine side effects".

Lamictal is a very unusual drug in that its generic versions can vary widely, not just in the side effects produced, or even in efficacy, but the actual bioavailability of the drug itself.  Officially, some generics only have 80% of the bioavailable medication that brand name Lamictal does.  In fact, the only generic that is identical to brand name Lamictal is produced by the drug company Teva.

Most health plans ding you for buying a brand name drug when a generic is available.  In fact, many will refuse to pay for a brand name drug at all, unless your doctor specifies it on your prescription.  Obviously, then, the thing to do is get your hands on Teva lamotrigine.  But not all pharmacies carry it.  So where do you find it?
The answer is: Walgreens.

After my horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad experience on NorthStar (which I filled at Costco, btw), I decided, never again!  I had filled my first scrip at Walgreens, received the Teva generic, and did great.  But does Walgreens always use Teva?  Maybe they dispense whatever's cheapest that month.  So I called my pharmacist and asked.

She told me that Teva was Walgreens' generic lamictal.  It's simply what they carry, and that isn't likely to change.  That was two months ago, and I have carefully checked my meds when I pick them up to make sure that they're made by Teva, and they always have been.  Yay for me!

Now, I've only ever filled my scrip at my local Walgreens in NorCal, but I can't imagine that they don't carry Teva nationwide.  This probably includes their mail order service as well.  The reason for this is simple: the bigger your order with a manufacturer, the less you pay.  Walgreens has an incentive to buy all of their lamotrigine from Teva and dispense it everywhere, because going with two manufacturers would cost them more.

For this reason, I suspect that Teva will always be their generic of choice.  Another reason I think they'll stick with Teva is that it's the best generic out there.  People want their meds to work, and if you can get Teva lamotrigine at Walgreens, and NorthStar lamotrigine at CostCo, you'll damn well go to Walgreens. Especially if you have insurance, and your co-pay is the same either way.

Again, in case there isn't a Walgreens in your area, they offer a mail order service.  Call ahead to make absolutely sure that they'll be sending you Teva.  Happy hunting.

18 comments:

  1. Hi, I just stumbled upon your posting and am so thankful for it. I take lamotrigine to control my epilepsy. I recently switched from a mail order company (Medco) to Costco because of the cost. The generic brand switched from Cadila/Zydkus to Northstar, but my neurolgist didn't see a problem with this. The levels in my system are way off from what they were and vary from blood test to blood test. Thank you for validating my thoughts on the differences between generics. I can't seem to find Cadila elsewhere, and Teva sounds like a better option anyway. Walgreens, here I come!

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  2. I'm so glad you're able to switch back. I fill a lot of my scrips through medco, but I was afraid they would do just this sort of thing, so I never filled my lamotrigine through them. And thanks for posting -- other people need to know about Medco too.

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  3. I'm glad to read this, I'm on my first refill after starting with the tapering Orange-pack starter thing. I had my scrip filled at Dillon's Grocery and I checked the bottle to see that it was generic from Teva. I'm going to talk to my pdoc on Tuesday about this. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  4. I'm reallyyyy glad I came across this today! I read your blog here and there. :) I tend to read blogs and forget about them for a month, so I have lots to catch up on; it's more fun that way. However, I missed this, which would have helped me. I've been having a very unpleasant side affect to Zydus Lamotrigine for 3 weeks. My psych said to just keep taking it, that in time it would taper off. Having seen this post, I immediately became interested in the possibility that there are other generics that could be different. It hadn't occurred to me that there were other generic options that could be different. I did some research and found that many other people have tried the different generics and have had success finding ones that work best (and several happen to dislike the Zydus version). I called CVS and asked if they carried any other generics, the girl responded with Mylan, and I told her to refill mine with Mylan, assuming that was the only other option. A few hours later she called to tell me that it would take a few days to fill because they had to order it, so I asked what other generics they could order, could they order Teva? She said they could order whatever generic I wanted! So I have Teva ordered. :) I can't wait to try it, based on your recommendation. Thank you! I hope it helps me as it has you. I'm also posting this so others know that CVS can in fact order it, if you ask. I love Walgreens, it's my absolute favorite, but CVS is right across the street for me at the moment. I can't thank you enough for opening my eyes to something I hadn't considered. I have high hopes for the Teva!

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  5. Glad i found this. I recently moved towns to a much larger city and refilled my meds at walgreens. See, I've ALWAYS taken Northstar Lamotrigine if not name brand Lamictal and they sent them back on refill with "Teva". I've been freaking out for hours trying to figure out what to do and resorted to googling (too late to call a Doctor). From your stuff I think I'll be fine switching, if not better but there's always that chance...right?

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  6. I was on real Lamictal when I started. It worked great. I felt great. When I got it refilled they gave me the Teva generic. Within a few days I was really struggling and felt terrible. I am in the process of getting the brand name again. Fortunately, I still have five days of Lamictal and am feeling better already on it. Even Teva didn't work at all for me. I'm glad it is good for others. I won't ever settle for a generic again, no matter what the cost.

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  7. My mom's a pharmacist at Walgreens, but I get my lamotrigine through a school pharmacy. It's the same price as everywhere else, I think. My mom's confirmed that Teva's lamotrigine is an AB-rated drug, which means it has the same bioavailability as GSK's lamictal. I think this is generally known, and to my knowledge the only generic that has this distinction. (Also a lot easier to swallow, less disintegration and gross taste in the mouth!)

    My understanding from talking to both pharmacists, mom at Walgreens and the one at my school, is that if you make a request for a specific brand of generic, they can order that and get it in within two business days. So if you're worried, just talk to your pharmacist and explain your preference. There was no difference in price between Teva and Torrent, which I was taking previously.

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  8. Stay away from Teva. If you do some research, you'll find that they're one of the worst pharmaceutical companies on the planet. I had a really bad reaction from taking one of their medications recently (generic Effexor), and if Walgreens only carries Teva generics, I am going look for another pharmacy.

    They've been investigated by the FDA many times, they've ADMITTED to bribing the FDA, they've been under investigation by the SEC for bribing drug officials in Latin America, they've been sent many warning letters by the FDA regarding their practices and the efficacy of their drugs. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

    I've found, literally, HUNDREDS of posts, just on TWO sites, where people are complaining about adverse reactions to TEVA products.

    I will never ever touch a TEVA product again.

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  9. Came across this blog trying to find out anything I can about Lamictal Generics. Been on Teva brand for over 2 years and it worked great for my Bipolar II manic depression and OCD symptoms. Then Kroger switched my meds to ZYDUS brand. Been going crazy ever since but didnt realize this was the problem until it got really bad and started searching the web. I went back on TEVA brand 1 week ago and still not feeling any major effects yet. Still depressed, still cycling, still feeling like I am confused and cant focus and having trouble putting sentences together and having panic attacks.
    Anyone else have any idea how long it will take for the TEVA lamitogine to level out in my system? I was on the ZYDUS brand for 1 month and back on TEVA for one week.
    Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

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  10. Does anyone have an opinion about UNICHEM PA as a maker of Lamotrigine? I have severe constipation I believe is going from this drug. I take citalopram and trazadone as well...

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    1. my pharmacy just refilled my Lamotrigine rx with this Unichem generic. I've never had a side effect from Lamictal or Lamotrigine before and I've been taking this medication for close to 8 yrs. This morning just after taking the first dose from this new bottle, I developed severe itching and redness around the sides of my face, ears, and body. Also face swelling, nausea and a headache and I'm notably more irritable today (I take this for my bipolar depression). I've done nothing different except tried this new medication so I can only attribute it to this. I know your post was just over a year ago but I'm concerned about this Unichem generic and am wondering whether anyone else has had a problem with it. Did you ever develop other symptoms from this generic since your last post?

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    2. Hi Anonymous,

      I have been taking Teva for 7 months...I take it for mood swings...
      I had been getting my Teva (200 mg) at Walgreens.,,my doctor just refilled my Rx and I had it sent to an independent pharmacy in my neighborhood...trying to help the little guy you know...I went to pick it up yesterday...didn't look at it (my bad) until I took it this morning and found it was Unichem...since my lamotrigine usage is for a side effect of lamictal, I thought I'd try it...big mistake. after an hour or two,I began to feel anxious and nauseous. So much for Unichem...went right back to walgreens and had my Rx transferred back......I hope to never take anything but Teva...the Unichem sucked..a couple of years ago, I had a different doctor and when he started me on lamotrigine, he prescribed Dr.Reddy's timed release pills..since I had no lamotrigine experience, I thought it was normal to feel a bit uneasy albeit in a reasonably elevated mood...was on that for over a year...this is after over 10 years on 80mg prozac daily..kinda lost its pizazz...so we went for the lamotrigene...my current doctor prescribed lamotrigine, filled it at Walgreens over six months ago...the difference between Dr.Reddy's and Teva is like night and day...for me at least...it's unfortunate that Teva doesn't work for everyone but meds are a game of trying one then another.kind of a drag.
      So my wish for this new year 2017 is that you all find the right generic and that it gives you the satisfaction you deserve.

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  11. Hi, im a man from the UK, I've been using lamotragine/Lamictal (Teva) to get up to the 425mg (225 at night 200 in the morning) it took me ages to get to this stage as my shrink would only up the dose 25mg every 2 weeks he wants me around the 500-600mg dose depending on my depression, thing is ive always used (Teva) to get to the 425 dose, then i went to a different chemist to get my prescription i got the (Glaxosmithkline) 200's and (Teva) 25's, what is the best, will they work together, should i ask for just 1 (which they might not do ?) or stay with just (Teva) or just stick to the both of them ?

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  12. Hi, im a man from the UK, I've been using lamotragine/Lamictal (Teva) to get up to the 425mg (225 at night 200 in the morning) it took me ages to get to this stage as my shrink would only up the dose 25mg every 2 weeks he wants me around the 500-600mg dose depending on my depression, thing is ive always used (Teva) to get to the 425 dose, then i went to a different chemist to get my prescription i got the (Glaxosmithkline) 200's and (Teva) 25's, what is the best, will they work together, should i ask for just 1 (which they might not do ?) or stay with just (Teva) or just stick to the both of them ?

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  13. I found TARO's Lamotrigine excellent. TEVA caused my blood glucose levels to elevate to the point that I was diagnosed with diabetes with no change to lifestyle other than the Rx change. Zydus causes me an upset stomach, incapacitating migraine, dizziness and mental confusion.

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  14. I just ended up in the hospital after being switched from North star lamotrigine to zydus. What began as flu like symptoms became full blown cold turkey withdrawal like symptoms within just a few weeks. I'm completely destabilized and feel like I've been poisoned. My hair has fallen out in globs and I developed a rash that sent me to the er. It's been horrific.

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  15. Just starting CIPLA from Costco, heard TEVA was bad so I drove to different pharmacies to find a brand I hasn't seen bad reviews about. Any news on this one? My doc has prescribed to stabilize my moods.

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  16. There have been supply issues with Teva, and my last prescription I was offered CIPLA at Walgreens. I went to another Walgreens and was able to fill it, but yesterday I couldn't find a Walgreens with TEVA in stock and nobody could order it; it was out-of-stock at the WholeSalers.

    My doctor wrote for brand which I had to fill at CVS to get the 3-month discount (CVS/Caremark is my insurance). I'm hoping that TEVA will be back in stock in a few months.

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What are your thoughts? Talk amongst yourselves!