A woman whose daughter suffers from epilepsy has complained that the government stopped providing effective medicine for the condition while people received hundreds of euros in benefits for epilepsy that they were not entitled to.

Her daughter, now 42, was born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy. She is treated with a mixture of three medicines including Levetiracetam to help control certain types of seizures.

The mother said that, in the past, the government’s Pharmacy of Your Choice (POYC) scheme, which provides free medicines for patients suffering from a chronic disease, would provide Levetiracetam produced by Keppra.

Speaking to Times of Malta on condition of anonymity, she said the medication produced by Keppra used to stop her daughter’s seizures but the free medication provided now is not as effective.

“The government economises on people like my daughter, who have this condition, yet provides benefits to people who don’t need them,” she said.

“If the money is there, give it to the right people. These people who benefitted do not suffer from epilepsy, yet my daughter who does is receiving generic medication.

“If these people who were fraudulent truly need help, they should get it, but they should not cheat the system.”

Times of Malta has revealed that former Labour MP Silvio Grixti was implicated in a years-long racket to help “hundreds” of people fraudulently receive monthly disability benefits.

If the money is there, give it to the right people

Last week, the Caritas Malta Epilepsy Association reported that patients and their families were infuriated by the news. Committee secretary Robin Pinkston described the fraud as a gross violation of the social welfare system that threw an “unjust and unfavourable light” on genuine patients.

Asked if her daughter was eligible to receive the monthly social benefits for severe disability, the mother said she was not as she already received a monthly pension of €752.80 under the Increased Severe Disability Assistance scheme. She angrily questioned if those beneficiaries who defrauded the system also received medication from the POYC.

“If yes, what were they doing with the medicine? Did they throw it away or just did not pick it up,” she asked.

She claimed that, in the past five years, the brand of Levetiracetam provided by POYC has changed at least six times.

“The one produced by Keppra worked wonders on my daughter, her fits stopped. When the price went up, they decided to change it to a more generic medicine which is less effective.”

She said her daughter takes a “cocktail” of medicines, including six Levetiracetam pills per day. Pharmacies sell the Keppra brand at prices ranging between €40 to €80 per box, she added.

She said that once the POYC stopped providing the particular brand of medication, she raised the issue with the health ministry and, following her complaints, a government doctor reached out to her regarding her concerns.

“He told me that the medicine was imported according to protocol. But what I care about is the effectiveness of this medication and if it benefits my daughter.”

She said the brand continuously changes and the last time she collected the POYC order, the medication was of a different brand.

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