Category Archives: Health Tips

Issues with Generic Drugs and How To Avoid.

Purpose of following is to educate people on questions to ask their doctor when considering a generic drug. Generic drugs are required to be close to, but not identical to a brand name drug. As always, knowing right questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist is very important…in all things medical.

Following is abstracted from May 14 issue of Dr David Eifrig Jr’s Retirement Millionaire (Issue #66). http://stansberryresearch.com

FDA has ruled that generic drug manufacturers can’t be sued.

“The FDA requires generic drugs to carry the exact same labeling as their name-brand counterparts (not including the brand name or trademark). All of the safety precautions, warnings, and related text must be copied exactly. They also  must carry the same warnings as the branded drug. So far, so good,  but if the branded drug doesn’t have specific warning, the generic isn’t required to have the warning either. This is huge loop-hole should a patient have a problem with the drug. FDA is working on changing this rule so generic drug manufactures could be sued.

Generics are not identical. They strive for “bioequivalence.”   “Bioequivalence” means things like the dosing, strength, method of administration, and intended use should be the same.  Measuring bioequivalence is a difficult process to explain, but it is the crux of the problem.

The scary part?  The FDA won’t release the bioequivalence studies that determine their judgment. “Bioequivalence” doesn’t always mean the generic drug will act same way the name-brand drug does.

What’s advertised as the same drug with the same dosage may have anywhere from 15% less to 25% more of the drug’s activity in the body. This means the generic could be slightly more or less effective than the brand-label version.

The ingredients can also be different. The only ingredient that generics need to have in common with the name-brand drug is the active ingredient. That means all preservatives, binding materials, coatings, dyes, and flavorings are fair game. The generic maker will often switch to lower-cost ingredients (another reason generics are cheaper).

This is all legal and approved by the FDA.”

Dr Eifrig continues, “Don’t get me wrong… not all generics are bad. But I believe in transparency and empowering consumers.

Before you start using a generic, ask your doctor or pharmacist some specific questions:

  • If you are on a blood thinner, ask about how often you should get your blood checked. Make sure to ask if you should get it rechecked when/if your prescription gets changed. The answer should be yes.
  • Do your research before you harm yourself. Remember… generic-drug makers CANNOT be sued if you have a reaction. They are required to copy the label verbatim from the original drug. Watchdog groups and online forums can help if you start feeling like the drug is causing problems.
  • Certain kinds of drugs require delicate and tight therapeutic dosing regimens. With things like mental illness, epilepsy, blood thinning – ask your doctor about generics and which ones are the best substitutes for your name-brand drug.

Once you start the generic, make sure you monitor your symptoms. Any re- currence of symptoms could mean the generic isn’t working. If that’s the case, ask your doctor if you can switch to the brand name.”

Practical tip Dr Eifrig suggests:

“… keep a log of your medications. Every time you get a refill, make note of the name, brand, distributor, color, and medication dose. Give this journal to your doctor/spouse/kids – everyone. This is a simple way to keep track of your medications, and it can save your life if you’re ever in the hospital.”

Saving money on prescriptions:

“If you want the brand name, some insurance companies will make you pay a higher co-pay or claim the drug is not approved and refuse to pay for any portion of it – making you cover the full cost.

If you’re worried about the added cost, there are ways to save money on prescriptions.

-An “authorized generic” is a generic-label version sold by the brand-label manufacturer. It’s a lower-cost version of the exact same drug.

The same company makes it with the exact same ingredients. This allows the manufacturer to corner the market on the generic form of the drug, push- ing out other potential generics. For consumers, it means getting the exact same drug as the brand-label drug… avoiding any variances that come with using the generics from a different manufacturer.

The FDA maintains a list of authorized generics. You can see it at http://www.sbry.co/qlGIet.

Another way to save money… Take a double dosage of your medicine every other day. So instead of taking 5 mg a day, you’d take 10 mg every other day. Since a 90-day supply of 10-mg pills costs the same as the 5 mg, you’d save 50% instantly on your drugs. Just check with your doctor to see if this could work, as some medications work best taken every day, regardless of the amount.

-Another way to save is with coupons. Like other consumer-product providers, drug companies offer coupons. The coupons are distributed to doctors and pharmacists. Not all companies provide coupons. But feel free to call up your doctor or pharmacist and ask if any coupons are available for your prescriptions.

You can also find printable coupons online: www.GoodRx.com and www.RxPhar- macyCoupons.com.

-You can also buy your drugs in bulk. Buying a 90-day supply of your medications can save you up to 40%, versus buying your medication every month. The simplest way to do this is to ask your doctor to write out a prescrip- tion for a 90-day supply, with multiple refills as necessary.”

Retirement Millionaire is published monthly. Excellent tip on an investment, good medical tips, and 2 page section with a variety of short, quick tips. It’s worth checking out. http://stansberryresearch.com/products/retirement-millionaire/