Unable to get clobazam? Work with your doctor, pharmacist

January 10, 2013

If people who take clobazam to control their seizure disorder are unable to obtain the medication, they need to be working with their doctor and pharmacist to develop an alternative drug-therapy program.

Karen Sullivan, Shoppers Drug Mart’s director of pharmacy professional affairs for Western Canada
Karen Sullivan, Shoppers Drug Mart’s director of pharmacy professional affairs for Western Canada

This is the message Karen Sullivan, Shoppers Drug Mart’s director of pharmacy professional affairs for Western Canada, recently shared with the Voices of Epilepsy in the wake of an announcement of a clobazam shortage.

Clobazam, which is marketed by several pharmaceutical companies in Canada, is a common medication prescribed to people with seizure disorders. The medication is usually prescribed to work in tandem with other pharmaceuticals. Some manufacturers have recently been reporting back-orders of clobazam, due to a current shortage of active pharmaceutical ingredients, the raw materials used in the manufacturing of medications.

This supply shortage may or may not affect individuals who take clobazam, depending on which manufacturer makes their medication and other factors, such as the amount of stock their pharmacy has on hand and the duration of the supply problem.

Should you find yourself unable to obtain clobazam, Sullivan says your first step should be to speak with your pharmacist, who may be able to track down a prescription for you. The next option should be to speak with your physician who, by working with your pharmacist, may be able to design an alternative medication plan for the duration of the supply shortage, she adds.

“The physician who is overseeing their care is going to be in the best position to assess what some of those alternatives may be,” says Sullivan.

Sullivan says the supply shortage is an issue anyone taking clobazam should be aware of and, because it is an older seizure-control medication, there are not as many alternatives available, making it even more critical that consultation between the patient, pharmacist and physician occurs.

“That’s where they can look at the patient’s past history and what previous therapy decisions have been made, and how that might affect any decisions they might need to make regarding alternatives,” says Sullivan.

If you take clobazam, Epilepsy Ontario recommends you contact your pharmacy to ask about the medication’s supply. If your pharmacist is unable to fill your prescription, contact your health-care provider immediately. Do not make any changes to your treatment — for example, skipping doses, reducing the dose, or discontinuing the drug — without consulting your doctor.

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Writer: Deron Hamel

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