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From 1 October 2019, Pharmac announced its decision to move to one funded brand instead of three funded brands of epilepsy medication.

Our primary concern is road safety, and while we will not be enforcing a mandatory stand-down period from driving as we do when licence holders undergo a withdrawal of treatment, as a precaution we recommend that health practitioners whose patients have or will be transferring brands consider a voluntary stand down from driving during the eight-week early transition period after switching medications, should they have any concerns when considering an individual patient’s medical history and other relevant factors.

Additionally, we encourage anyone with concerns about the potential side effects as a consequence of changing brands to consult with their health practitioner or specialist before continuing to drive. Health professionals are often best placed to make a determination in respect of a person’s driving ability, by considering the patient’s medical history and other relevant factors that may only be known by their health practitioner.