Generic vs. Brand Name

1 decade 9 months 3 weeks ago Thursday, July 26 2007 Jul 26, 2007 Thursday, July 26, 2007 11:15:44 AM CDT July 26, 2007 in News

You may not know it, but chances are if you filled a prescription in the last year, you've probably taken a generic drug.

Of the close to 4 billion prescriptions dispensed in the United States in 2006, a whopping 61 percent of them were filled with generics, and that number is on the rise. And that's not to mention the countless store brand versions of over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol, Bayer, and Advil.

Yet despite their increased presence in medicine cabinets across the country, public opinion of generic drugs is still mixed.

"Over-the-counter medications? I usually go for the brand."

"I buy the drugstore brand because it's cheaper."

"I would say I use generic when I can, always."

"Originally I thought they were equal because I thought the FDA and all our government oversight regulators were making sure they were the same. Now I'm not sure."

That skepticism is echoed on websites like the People's Pharmacy, where consumers post messages about problems when switching from brand to generic drugs.

"We began hearing from people that generics were not working as well as we hoped they'd be," Pharmacologist Joe Graedon said. "They said, 'My blood pressure started to go up when I went on a generic.' or, 'My blood sugar went up.' or, 'My diabetes wasn't controlled as well.'"

While experts agree that patients' complaints should not be taken lightly, some argue the stigma attached to generic medications can often cause a placebo affect.

Dr. Roger L. Williams, CEO of U.S. Pharmacopeia said, "When generic substitution occurs, there may be a change in the color or shape of pill and that tends to heighten concern," said Dr. Roger L. Williams, CEO of U.S. Pharmacopeia.

Proponents of generic medications insist their drugs are as safe and effective as brand name products while costing 30 to 80 percent less.

"What consumers need to know about generic medicines is that they're highly regulated by the food and drug administration," said Kathleen Jaeger of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association. "Generic medicines contained the same medicine, same results and costs less."

According to the FDA's Web site, generic drugs are identical or bio-equivalent to a brand name drug in safety, strength and quality.

Early HIV Detection Key

The World Health Organization (WHO) says early detection is crucial to the survival of babies born with HIV. A new study has shown that HIV-infected babies treated in the first weeks of life are four times more likely to survive than those left untreated.

Current WHO guidelines call for drugs to be administered only after signs of a weakening immune system are observed. The WHO hopes the report will persuade health officials to change those guidelines.

Some Vegetables Reduce Cancer Risk 

Broccoli, cauliflower and possibly spinach could help reduce a man's chance of developing aggressive prostate cancer.

A study of more than 1,300 prostate cancer patients, led by researchers at Cancer Care Ontario, found a diet rich in dark green and mustard like vegetables was associated with a smaller risk for an aggressive form of the disease.

Researchers did not find a link with fruits and other vegetables.

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