In the next year 7 of the 10 top-selling drugs in the USA will lose their patents. These include Lipitor, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Plavix, Singulair, Actos, and Enbrel. If you are paying out-of-pocket you may want to switch to the generic version. Alert your pharmacist that you want to switch and tell her/him to alert you when the generic is available. If you are paying a co-pay because of insurance, your co-pay will probably decrease also.

Generic availability always begs the question as to whether generics are as good as the brand-name product. Another question might be whether the generic version is better than the branded product. Both brand-name products and generics can have uneven safety and efficacy issues as evidenced through their recall records.

The FDA states unequivocally that the generic versions they approve for marketing have the same “high quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name drugs”. However, what the FDA does not mention is that these indices are not absolute but rather fall within a certain “acceptable” percentage range. For example, a tablet labeled as “100mg” may not actually be “100mg” but rather must fall in the range of plus or minus 10%. So the tablet might actually be “91mg” or “109mg” or anywhere inbetween and still meet FDA standards. And these variances may differ from lot to lot. This is true for both brand-name and generics!

In most cases these “approved” variances make little or no difference in actual practice. However, there are a few drugs and some patients where it does matter. Some drugs have a very thin margin for error and some patients are much more sensitive to drug effects than others.

So what should you do? Inform yourself in every way you can about the drugs you are taking and find out from your pharmacist and physician what they recommend for you in your particular case.

You must be responsible for your own care! Keep asking questions until you are satisfied with the answers!

Be Well.

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