If you’ve thought about trying generics but were afraid to because you think they aren’t as effective, think again. And in these economically distressed times, generic drugs provide the same effectiveness as the brand name at much less cost.
Hal Roe, pharmacist with Health Mart Pharmacies, talk about some surprising generic drug facts.
FIRST, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Branded medicines result from years of research and major financial investments by pharmaceutifcal and biotech companies. These medicines are protected by patents.
Generic drugs are copies of branded medicines, allowed after patents expire. Before a patent expires, no generic may be available. Generics can be a smart option for many people, and the drugs may save them and the health care system money.
COST COMPARISONS: BRANDED VS. GENERIC
(Based on one month’s supply) – Approximate costs
Zocor (cholesterol) 40 mg $169.00
Generic $20 00
Glucophage (diabetes) 500 mg $75.00
Altace (blood pressure) 5 mg $70.00
Prozac (anti-depressant) 20 mg $165.00
However, some brand and generic medicines may have subtle differences, such as differences in the formulation or the amount of drug that enters the body. Check with your health care provider or pharmacists
FORMULATION DIFFERENCES MAY BE IMPORTANT
According to a recent survey sponsored by PriCara, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., among the 47 percent of pharmacists who recommended a brand name medication over its generic equivalent, 54 percent cited a formulation issue that could be important to a specific patient. For instance:
1) Branded medicines may have different formulations – such as being long-action-that generic versions do no offer
2) For some critical dose drugs (such as some thyroid replacement drugs, anticoagulants and anticonvulsants), a small change in the amoung of drug that gets into the body – which can occur with generic drugs — can have significant health consequences.
“Its’ very important that consumers talk to their pharmacists about health issues — particularly their medications,” explain Dr. Harold silverman, consultant to PriCara, pharmacist and author of “The Pill Book.” Doing so can clear up a number of misconceptions that could affect your health.
Try these tips for talking to your health care provider or pharmacist):
1) Ask for the name of the medicine you are prescribed and what it does.
2) Know how much medicine you should take, how often you should take it and for how long.
3) If a generic version of your medication is offered, ask if ti might be different from the brand medicine and if its’ right for you.
4) Know what results you should expect.
5) Ask about side effects and, if the medicine does not work, how long you should wait until talking to your doctor about it.,
6) Ask whether there is concern about taking the medicine with other medicines youare taking, even over-the-counter medicines or herbal and dietary supplements.
Give your Health Mart Pharmacy a call by going to www.healthmart.com for the location nearest you.
You can find more info on medications at the Merck Manual online library at www.merck.com, in the Orange Book section of the FDA’s Web site at www.fda.gov/cder/ob/ and in “The Pill Book”.
Excerpts for this this article from the Fall Health & Wellness Guide, The Salt Lake Tribune supplement, Oct 2, 2008