As prescription drug prices continue to out pace the cost of virtually any other product on the market more and more Americans are looking for any low cost alternative. Some search the Internet looking for low cost drugs. Others travel to or order from lower cost pharmacies in Canada or Mexico. As a result of some of these efforts, many have fallen victim to scams involving the substitution of counterfeit drugs marketed under false pharmacy names and using false credentials.
A safer alternative and one chosen by many Americans is found in generic drugs. When generic alternatives are available prescription drug users can often save hundreds of dollars per prescription relative to the drug purchased. When the number and frequency of drugs taken by an individual are considered the savings in using generic alternatives can be substantial, amounting to thousands of dollars annually. While these savings would be significant to anyone they are particularly beneficial to senior citizens many of whom use high quantities of prescription drugs and are least able to afford the high cost of brand name drugs.
Considering the above it is difficult to understand why many prescription drug users are hesitant to use generic alternatives when these are available even at the cost of paying hundreds of dollars more per prescription.
Two of the reasons given most frequently by those who refuse to use generic drugs are:
1) Generic drugs are lower strength drugs that will not have the same effect as the prescription full strength drug.
This is perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of generic drugs and is in fact, a myth. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all drugs including brand and generic, meet the same specifications for exactness in dose delivered. A generic drug prior to being approved by the FDA must prove that the generic has the same dosage, quality, strength, and safety as the brand name product.
There is also a requirement that the generic version of the drug must be similar in how it works, how it is taken, and in its’ prescribed use.
2) Generic drugs have side effects not found in prescription brand names.
Generally this is not true however, there are reported cases in which side effects have occurred in generic versions of drugs which did not exist in brand names. The natural assumption made here is that the generic drug was constituted with an inferior formulation of drug compounds. Studies have found that when side effects in generic drugs are found the cause is most often traced to non-formulatory compounds used in the in making the pill or capsule. Most often this would be a reaction to dyes or tints used to color code the pill or capsule or to the dissoluble capsule materials. These ingredients which are not part of the drug formulation are not covered by FDA regulations and may vary from drug producer to drug producer, but have no effect on the effectiveness of the drug delivered or its’ effect.
Pharmacist recommend that should such a reaction occur with generic brands changing the drug supplier often solves the problem.
Hopefully, understanding the myth vs. reality of generic drugs can help those of us who take prescription drugs make better choice decisions.