Brand drugs vs Generic drugs

Oct 3, 2000 (Updated Aug 10, 2007)

The Bottom Line Brand drugs is better than Generic drugs at any given time.

Brand drugs vs Generic drugs

Drug companies test the drugs for years and spend millions of dollars for development.
Lots of money is spent on the development of the active ingredient and then the correct inert ingredient is developed to help the active ingredient be properly absorbed.
The active ingredient is what makes the drug work.
The inert ingredient is just as important as the active ingredient as the inert ingredients are added the the active ingredient to help the body use and absorb the drug.

The drug companies try different combinations of inert ingredients until they find the one that makes the active ingredient work best so the medication is used and absorbed properly.

Brand drugs are tested until they are found to be properly absorbed by the body.

The inert ingredients do not the active ingredients be absorbed too quickly or too slowly. It is just right.


Caution: A recent television program during July 2007, there was a show on either Dateline or 60 Minutes and they addressed medication.

There are medications being sold in the U.S. that are fakes. They look like the real drug but it is nothing but plaster of paris or some other garbage.

A physician I worked with told me that some people make the drugs in their dirty garage and sell it to unsuspecting pharmacies.

I would recommend that you purchase your medication from a chain pharmacy like CVS - WalMart - Etc.
The problem may be with small "Mom & Pop" independent pharmacies that do not have to answer to a higher authority.

History of Generic drugs
After the Brand drug is developed, the generic versions are made.

The Generic drug has the same active ingredient as the Brand drug but the inert ingredients (fillers) are different.

Yes Generic drugs are cheaper and yes they do contain the active ingredient.

The difference is in the inert ingredient (that is the portion of the drug that help the body absorb and use the medication).

Generic drug manufacturers use different inert ingredients than those used by the Brand drugs.

The inert ingredients in Generic drugs change the absorption rate of the of the active ingredient.
The inert ingredients used in Generic drugs are not always consistent so the drugs may not be absorbed properly if at all and may not work as well as Brand drug.

The use of inert ingredients in Generic drugs may cause the drugs to be less effective, ineffective, or not work at all.

I studied Pharmacology at the University of Miami and learned that sometimes generic drugs do not work because the buffers (inert ingredients) are not the same as in brand drugs. Try to always take Brand drugs as they do work as they are supposed to.

A patient suffers from high blood pressure and is prescribed a Generic drug.
The patient returns and the blood pressure is not controlled with the generic drug so the healthcare provider increases the generic drug.

The patient returns and the blood pressure is still elevated so a new blood pressure drug is added (generic).
Now the patient is on two medications for high blood pressure.

At this point we were told to check the drug to see if it is Generic. If the drug is generic and not working then switch the patient to a BRAND drug and see if that works and it generally does as the Brand drug has better absorption.

Most of the time a water pill like Hydrochlorothiazide is prescribed along with the drug for hypertension. If you are not taking a diuretic (water pill) with your blood pressure medication then ask your healthcare provider to prescribe a diuretic. A diuretic helps lower the blood pressure.

If you are taking a generic drug and it doesn't seem to be controlling your disease, ask your physician for the BRAND medication and see if that works better.

Don't let anybody tell you that Generic is the equivelent of Brand. It is not necessarily true.

HMO's and the Veterans Administration (VA) prefer to give generic drugs because they are cheaper.

It is better to take one Brand drug to treat a disease than take 2 generic drugs.

The FDA doesn't allow substitutions for some brand drugs because the absorption varies. Examples of brand drugs that should not be substituted for Generic drugs: Coumadin, Digoxin, Dilantin.

The FDA found in a study of Dilantin (brand vs generic) that seizure patients (who were seizure free for over 1 year) were taking the brand drug Dilantin and were switched to generic and they began having seizures because the generic seizure medication wasn't being absorbed.

Read this about seizure medication:

The same goes for Coumadin, the generic may not thin the blood properly and puts you at a higher risk for blood clots or bleeding because the inert ingredient is not consistant.
That is why a Brand drug is preferred because it absorption is consistent.

Some generic drugs do work.
Some generic drugs do not work.

There are many versions of generic drugs and they are not all the same. Some generic drugs may work perfectly but if you are switched to another generic brand then there is a chance that the drug may be less effective or not work at all.

A word of caution: if you are taking a generic drug and it doesn't work, ask your healthcare provider to switch you to the brand drug.

Little known facts about drugs:
Coumadin should be taken in the afternoon about 5 pm. (because blood levels are taken first thing in the morning and the drug level is more accurate)
But if you take Coumadin first thing in the morning and have your blood level drawn for coumadin then the dosage would show too much or too little and you will be at risk for clots. People who usually have trouble with their blood levels usually aren't taking their coumadin at the right or same time ever day.
Did you know that green leafy vegtables can lessen the effectiveness of Coumadin??
Vitamin K helps the blood clot.
Know the correct time of day you should take your Coumadin.
Know what you should eat and what you should not eat when taking Coumadin.
Know when you should have your blood checked while you are taking Coumadin.

Digoxin / Lanoxin
When taking Digoxin / Lanoxin you should have regular blood levels drawn at least once or twice a year.
You should take your pulse before taking your Digoxin / Lanoxin as if your pulse is less than 60 in one minutes' time then you should not take the medication or you should call your healthcare provider to see what you should do.
If your pulse is less than 60 in one minutes' time and you take Digoxin / Lanoxin then it may drop the pulse so low and slow that you may feel dizzy and pass out.

When taking a drug on a regular basis your blood should be checked once or twice a year to see what effects the drug may have on your body.

When you get your prescription filled at the pharmacy ask the pharmacist for the insert (provides comprehensive information) for the drug. The insert is all about the drug. It may be complicated to read but look and read about:
dosage (make sure you are taking the right dose)
adverse reactions (reactions that may occur from taking the drug)
contraindications (when you should not take the drug)
interactions (if you take the drug it may react with other drugs you take)
warnings (things you should be aware of).

If your pharmacist does not have the insert go to the library reference desk and ask for the PDR (physician's desk reference) book. Most all libraries have them. It is a big thick book. Go to the Pink pages in front and look up the drug you were prescribed. It is in alphabetical order. Read the sections I wrote above. This is the truth about the medication. Know what you are taking and how the drug will affect your body.
Become an informed health consumer!

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Member: Dorothy Smith
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