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The Epilepsy Foundation, also Epilepsy Foundation of America (EFA), is a non-profit national foundation, headquartered in Landover, Marylandmarker, dedicated to the welfare of people with epilepsy and seizure disorders. The foundation was established in 1968 and now has a network of 59 affiliates. The foundation's programs aim to "ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences; and to prevent, control and cure epilepsy through research, education, advocacy and services."

The Epilepsy Foundation came into existence as the result of a merger of the Epilepsy Association of America and the Epilepsy Foundation in 1967. It has since been joined by the National Epilepsy League. Programs included educational, counseling, referral, and employment assistance. In addition the EFA has advisory and youth programs, training grants and programs.

Controversy

According to the Wall Street Journal, the foundation, with its local affiliates, has been lobbying for state laws in 25 states that would prevent pharmacists from substituting generic epilepsy drugs for brand-name drugs unless the pharmacist had written consent of the physician or patient. The pharmaceutical industry has also been lobbying state legislatures for the change, and working with the foundation.

The pharmaceutical industry spent $8.8 million in state campaign contributions in 2006. In its annual report, the Epilepsy Foundation reported that it got $500,000 to $999,999 from GlaxoSmithKline, and $100,000 to $499,999 from each of Abbott Laboratories and Johnson & Johnsonmarker. Representatives of four pharmaceutical companies sit on the Epilepsy Foundation's board, as does Billy Tauzin, head of PhRMA, which gave $25,000 to $49,999. The Foundation denied that pharmaceutical funding had anything to do with its support of the laws.

Generic drug substitution is significant, according to the Journal, because four major branded drugs, with $5 billion revenue last year, will be going off-patent by 2010. (The five best-selling drugs are Topamax, Lamictal, Lyrica, Keppra and Depakote.) Pharmacists can now substitute generics, because every generic drug, in order to be approved, has to demonstrate that it is equivalent to the branded drug.

The Epilepsy Foundation received anecdotal reports of patients experiencing seizures and side effects after switching drugs, and tried to convince the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999 that there was a problem, but the FDA decided there was no evidence. In 2006, the Foundation convened a committee of medical experts, and its own experts also found no evidence. Nonetheless, the Foundation recommended that doctors be required to give permission to switch to generics.

In 2008, further controversy was generated during the Epilepsy Foundation forum invasion where members were assaulted by flashing images.

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