Trying not to look at the price

The stuff I take for hypertension costs me $2 per tab, once a day. (Were I blowing off my insurance coverage, it would be somewhere between $2 and $3.) Needless to say, it’s a name-brand drug, and it will be on patent at least through 2011, so I can hardly wait for it to show up in generic form at Target for $4 for thirty tabs.

Then again, maybe not:

I am aghast at the latest headline spin insisting that generic drugs are just as good as the more expensive brands.

Why? Because the study cited doesn’t “prove” that at all. The “survey” was not a survey of actual drugs taken randomly from your local pharmacy, but a “survey” of articles that examined generic versus brand name medicines.

The problem? This means that “headsup” articles, where medications were caught being a problem and were taken off the market, aren’t included.

Nor is that the only problem:

[D]o your generics come from a long established company, that would face lawsuits, loss of their good name, and even bankruptcy for peddling fake ingredients, or does the generic come from a “fly by night” company whose owners can take the money and run?

Of course, with globalization, even well known drug companies in the US and Europe are using ingredients or using factories in third world countries.

I looked to see who’d gotten approval for the generic version of my antihypertensive, and that firm (there’s only the one, so far) has been around nearly as long as I have, which suggests that maybe I’m not running that big a risk by trying to save $56 a month.


  1. fillyjonk »

    5 December 2008 · 4:29 pm

    Apparently sometimes the formulations ARE different, or perhaps the inert ingredients are – one of my aunts (or her medical proxy) had to hassle Medicare on several occasions because the generic they wanted to give her had nearly killed her (it was an allergic reaction, I think) but the brand-name, she seemed to tolerate OK.

    I express a certain gratitude that Claritin (the main med I take) is now sold OTC. True, my prescription coverage doesn’t pay for it but that also means I can choose my med without getting jerked around every January by the “Oh, we changed which medications are APPROVED and the one that works best for you isn’t anymore” letter.

  2. CGHill »

    5 December 2008 · 5:12 pm

    The only drug I’ve actually taken in both brand-name and generic form is Mobic (meloxicam), which came off patent a couple of years ago; I didn’t notice any particular difference except for the expense.

    The Formulary Weasels who service CFI Care (not its real initials) are constantly trying to talk me out of the one brand-name drug I take regularly, but so far they haven’t actually refused to cover the refills. Yet.

  3. El Capitan »

    5 December 2008 · 5:31 pm

    I used to take Accupril for blood pressure, and one of the known side effects was a persistent dry cough. With the name brand, I never experienced the cough, but once I switched over to a generic for cost reasons, the cough showed up, and was a major PITA. I had to keep Lifesavers or some other hard candy or cough drop with me constantly to quiet the tickle in my throat.

    Doc said that there were better buffering agents in the name brand. After I wore a hole in a molar due to the constant presence of cough drops, I switched to Diovan and had no futher issues…

  4. Maya »

    17 December 2008 · 6:08 pm

    My grandfather also suffered from high blood pressure. After exploring many different treatment options, he ended up using the “Zona Plus”. It is a handheld device discovered by the Air Force. It lowered his systolic blood pressure over 50 points and he only had to buy it once :) They even promised to give him his money back if it did not work! Good luck!

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