PARENTS are concerned over shortages in epilepsy medication for their children and the possibility of using an alternative instead, according to a Cork TD.
Epanutin 50mg infatabs can be used to treat epilepsy and control a variety of epileptic conditions, including seizures.
The medicine contains phenytoin, which is one of a group of medicines known as anti-epileptic drugs.
Earlier this month, the provider of Epanutin 50mg infatabs revealed that there is an international shortage in the medication.
The shortage has led to parents expressing concerns about how to access the drug and the possible implications of using other medication.
When questioned on the issue by Cork TD Pat Buckley (SF), Health Minister Simon Harris said the shortage is not confined to the Irish market.
“The company is changing its manufacturing site and this has resulted in the shortage,” he explained.
“The company is taking all possible steps to ensure that normal supply resumes as soon as possible.
“However, in order to mitigate any impact of the shortage to patients, the company is supplying the product it places on the Australian market under a different brand name — Dilantin Infatabs 50mg,” he added.
“This product contains the same active ingredient, phenytoin, and is owned by the same company.”
Minister Harris said that healthcare professionals were alerted on October 9 in advance of the shortage, advising that pharmacy staff and patients should be made aware of the issue and that the replacement product that would be made available.
“Patients or their carers who have any concerns in relation to the temporary alternative product are advised to speak with their pharmacist or other healthcare professional involved in their epilepsy care,” he explained.
“Unfortunately, medicine shortages are a feature of modern health systems worldwide, but Ireland has a multi-stakeholder system in place to prevent and manage shortages when they occur.”
Speaking to The Echo, Mr Buckley said that he has been contacted by concerned parents who claim they were never notified about the shortage.
“It was worried parents that contacted me saying that they were never notified about this,” he said.
“Some children have been taking this medication formore than 10 years and parents are terrified.”
A spokesperson for Epilepsy Ireland said the group is aware of the shortage.
“We would encourage everyone affected by this shortage to please link in with your medical team or Epilepsy Nurse Specialists with any concerns regarding this.
“We have made contact with both the Health Products Regulatory Authority and the drug’s manufacturer seeking further information.”