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HEALTHY LIVING


Generic Versus Brand-Name Drugs: They’re Not the Same


BY LYNN ALLISON G


eneric drugs are popular because they’re cheaper. But some generics don’t work as well as the


brand names. “There are biological


differences between name brands and generic brands,” North Carolina-based cardiologist Dr. Kevin Campbell tells Newsmax. “In many cases one doesn’t have an advantage over the other, but switching between these different preparations can have adverse health effects.” Campbell says that in an


effort to cut costs, insurers often force patients to switch back and forth between different preparations and this can cause significant health risks. “Generic formulations do not


work exactly the same way,” he says. Here are some examples of certain


types of medications you need to talk to your doctor about before switching. 1. Medications for underactive thyroid. The thyroid is such a sensitive gland that even a small change in the dose of your thyroid medication can have a major effect on the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood. Switching between brand name and generic drugs can cause an imbalance because the delivery system may differ.


2. Asthma inhalers. In the case of asthma inhalers, those cannot be legally changed at the pharmacy level without the physician’s approval, Dr. Andy Nish, of NGPG Allergy and Asthma in Gainesville, Ga., tells Newsmax. “Although the exact same medicine, such as


76 NEWSMAX MAXLIFE | MAY 2018


diabetes medication that came as an injection, but that is no longer the case. We now have liraglutide (Saxenda or Victoza), dulaglutide (Trulicity), albiglutide (Tanzeum), and pramlintide (Symlin) — all injectable diabetes medications that are not insulin. People may confuse these drugs with insulin and should understand that they work differently. They also may have different side effects so you need to discuss any medication changes with your doctor. 6. Anticoagulant warfarin. Be careful of minute differences in the way these medications work, says Campbell. “A prime example


is the brand name Coumadin versus generic blood thinners,”


albuterol is being administered, there may be changes in the delivery system or force of puff,” he says.


3. Digoxin for heart failure. Experts say that the differences between brand name Lanoxin and the generic version of digoxin have not been well-studied so it’s best not to switch.


4. Theophylline for asthma and COPD. The inactive ingredients for this drug vary per manufacturer, and this affects how quickly the medication is absorbed in your body. Also, theophylline products come in controlled release or extended release forms, which release the active ingredient at different rates than the brand name versions.


5. Diabetes medications. For many years insulin was the only type of


he says. “Once the patient is stable on one type, the dosing may not translate exactly one-to-one with a brand name and a generic.” 7. Eye drops for glaucoma. Generic eye drops were approved in 1962 and generally have the same active ingredients found in brand names. But since the inactive ingredients may differ, the generic drops may be especially vulnerable to shelf life and temperature changes that can hinder their effectiveness.


8. Seizure medications. Both extended release and controlled release versions of seizure medication are designed to keep drug levels stable in the blood over a period of time to reduce the risk of seizure. But the inactive ingredients in generic forms may alter those drug levels in your body, which could make you more prone to seizures.


GENERIC


BRAND


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