Generic Drugs are Cheaper! But are they Better?

by Kristina on July 14, 2011 · 6 comments

Yesterday I went to the pharmacy to pick up my monthly prescription and they pharmacist asked me if I wanted the generic brand of my prescription because it is $4 cheaper.  Without hesitation I replied “No Thank You” and proceeded to pay for my regular prescription.  Without going into too many details my monthly prescription makes sure that I remain a DINK ;)

Last month when I went to the pharmacy to pick up my monthly prescription they didn’t have my normal prescription in stock and ensured me that the generic option for my monthly drugs is just as strong and effective  as the name brand drugs.  Since I didn’t know anything about generic drugs at the time, and some protection is better than no protection, I accepted the generic brand of my DINK ensuring monthly drugs.  Although I did question how a pharmacy could be out of drugs?

I am not sure if the ingredients in the generic drugs are not the same as my name brand monthly drugs, or if my body was just used to my normal prescription, but last month we had a DINKS scare.  I told my boyfriend Nick that even though we didn’t plan for this to happen it seems that someone up in the heavens (or someone deep down in the belly of the Earth) has another plan for us.  Needless to say it was a false alarm and my body just reacted (horribly) to the generic drugs.  Not only did my monthly cycle get out of order, I was also nauseous for a few days.

Now that I think of it, last November when I visited my Doctor for my annual physical check up and prescription renewal he asked me if I wanted the generic version of my regular DINKS ensuring monthly prescription.  I said No because I have been taking my normal monthly prescription for over 10 years and I am very adverse to change.  I also don’t like it when my Doctor suggests new (generic) drugs because I always feel that he has a hidden agenda, such as the perk of a weekend in Florida from the pharmaceutical rep.

Even though my Pharmacist guaranteed that the generic version of my name brand drug was the exact same as my normal monthly prescription this was obviously not the case.  I don’t really care about saving the $4 on my monthly prescription because 90% of my prescription drug costs are covered by my employer medical benefits.

Maybe generic drugs are a cost efficient option for a first time prescription, but if your body has been using the same name brand drug for 10 years, switching to a generic brand of drugs may not be a good choice; at least it wasn’t for me.

I decided to get some information and read up about the growing trend of Doctors and Pharmacists recommending generic brand drugs instead of name brand medication.

Here are some facts about Generic Brand Drugs:

  • Generic Drugs are used to fill approximately 40% of all prescriptions.
  • Using Generic Drugs can save the Health Care system $1.5 billion per year.  This money can be allocated to other Health Care services such as Doctors, Nurses, Clinics, and Research.
  • Even if our drug costs are covered by an Employer Health Plan expensive drugs are costly for everyone through tax increases, higher premiums, or cuts in our Health Care Services.
  • Generic Drugs are held to the same Quality and Efficacy standards as Name Brand Drugs.
  • Generic Drugs may look different and have a different name, but they contain the same medical dosage as Name Brand Drugs.  The major difference is the lower cost.
  • The suppliers of Generic Drugs are in many cases the same as Name Brand Drugs.
  • Generic substitutes are not yet available for all Name Brand Prescription Drugs on the market.

Photo by EPsos

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brian July 14, 2011 at 8:49 am

Hi Kristina. Morality aside – truly – I think you might want to investigate the long-term health implications of that monthly prescription. Our bodies try to maintain a very delicate balance of hormones between many different organs, including, obviously, the reproductive system. That daily prescription contains a huge amount of at least two hormones that throws this balance out of a loop — progesterone and estrogen.

Because all of our hormones have diverse responsibilities and applications in the body, an enormous daily consumption of them will affect more than just the intended organs and functions. High estrogen, for instance, prevents the absorption of thyroid hormones, slowing down metabolism and making us more tired, heavier and worse at concentration and memory.

A higher than normal amount of hormones over a long period of time has also been linked to cancer.

Something to think about.

2 Kristina July 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm

@ Brian Thanks for the heads up! I do very often wonder if I should stop taking it because I have been taking it regularly for over 10 years. However, I am afraid of the alternative. I am way to selfish to have kids!

3 Nicole July 15, 2011 at 6:41 am

There are non-hormonal options just as effective as the pill. I chose to have a non-hormonal IUD and couldn’t be happier. One of the several benefits is that my skin cleared up.

To the point of your post, there are differences in generic drugs. Usually it’s in the fillers and inactive ingredients. So its likely you were sensitive to one of those ingredients.

Also, its unlikely your doctor was wooed by some pharmacy rep. That behavior is more for first-run, major name drugs. Pharmacies tend to carry different brands of generic, so he probably doesn’t even know which generic you’d be getting.

4 Brian July 15, 2011 at 8:47 am

Hi Kristina, I know that some friends have reported that they’ve had problems getting pregnant after having taken the pill regularly for a number of years, so I would definitely recommend researching other alternatives if you do hope to have kids one day.

As to the general theme of prescriptions, I echo Nicole’s comment about major name drugs… if you or anyone you know has an underactive thyroid, beware of synthroid! It’s manufacturer is in bed with every medical school and FDA staffer in America.

5 ib July 15, 2011 at 9:36 am

I also had a bad experience with coming off the pill and miscarriage. It seems that it is easier to conceive after coming off the pill, but there is a higher miscarriage rate.

Back to the topic of generic drugs, our drug plan at work only covers the generic brand unless the doctor specifically note that the name brand cannot be substituted. Even then, sometime they will still only cover the generic brand cost. Most pharmacies will substitute with generic unless “no-generic substitution” is written on the prescription, as a lot of the insurance companies will only cover generic.

There is no hidden agenda with doctors recommending generic drugs, actually I think it is a push from our health care mandate (in Canadian provinces anyway). This is because the provinces cover prescription drugs for some people and have to foot the bill. If your doctor actually recommends the name brand drug, then they might actually have the hidden agenda. This is how the big drug companies make their money.

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