Medication Alert: Divalproex Sodium (Epival)

December 19, 2015

Canadian pharmaceutical companies are reporting shortages of divalproex sodium (Epival), also known as valproic acid.

DrugShortage615As of Thursday December 17, a total of fifteen divalproex sodium shortages were posted on by Abbott Laboratories Limited*, Apotex Inc., Pro Doc Limitée, Sanis Health Inc. and Teva Canada Limited. None of the pharmaceutical companies have provided an explanation for the shortages.

This situation is a serious concern. The estimated resupply dates currently range from December 24, 2015 to April 30, 2016. These dates are estimates and could change. Drug shortages, or back-orders, at the level of the pharmaceutical companies do not always result in shortages at community and hospital pharmacies. Although the longer a shortage lasts the greater the likelihood that it could have an impact on patients.

If you or a family member have been prescribed divalproex sodium (Epival), contact your pharmacist and ask about the availability of your medication.

If your pharmacist runs into any difficulty obtaining divalproex sodium they may be able to find some from a different supplier, another drug store, or another chain.

According to the Canadian Pharmacists Association’s guide on drug shortages, Step 1 is for pharmacists to exhaust every avenue to supply the medication. This may require looking beyond their regular sources of supply and contacting other wholesalers or calling the manufacturers. Your pharmacist also has access to resources and information through the Ontario Pharmacists Association.

If the situation worsens and your pharmacist is not able to locate any divalproex sodium for you, it is important to work with your pharmacist and your health care provider to manage the drug shortage in the safest way possible.

During a shortage, your pharmacist and health care provider may explore options that could include filling your prescription with a different strength tablet or substituting a different medication. If your dosing instructions change, ensure you understand the instructions and ask questions if it isn’t clear.

When a drug is unavailable in Canada, Health Canada’s Special Access Program (SAP) will consider requests from health care providers for access to the drug from outside the country. The SAP can be reached 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the program strives to process requests within 24 hours of receipt.

It is important to continue to take your medication as indicated. It can be frightening when an epilepsy drug is in short supply but skipping doses, taking less medication, or suddenly stopping an antiseizure drug is dangerous. This can lead to breakthrough seizures, more prolonged seizures or life-threatening events.

If you need any assistance or if you would like to be notified of any updates, please let us know. Call our office at 905-474-9696 or toll-free 1-800-463-1119 or email [email protected].

Click here for frequently asked questions about drug shortages

Click here for additional information about the Health Canada Special Access Program

* This company may be listed on incorrectly. Epival is no longer marketed by Abbott Laboratories Limited. According to the Health Canada drug product database, Epival is currently marketed by BGP Pharma. It appears that old drug shortage notifications from 2012 were re-used instead of creating a set of new notifications for the current Epival shortages.

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