One of the things I am often asked about when prescribing medications is the possibility of obtaining a generic medication. While these can be a great money saving option, it is important to keep in mind that a generic medication may not have the same amount of active ingredient as the brand versions of the same medication. So let’s take a look at a hypothetical medicine that we will call Mediwell, as an example. A generic version of brand name Mediwell 10 mg may actually be like taking Mediwell 8 mg or even 12 mg (remember generics can have 20% less or more active ingredient. See my past blog for why).
Let’s assume you have been doing ok on Mediwell 10 mg. Now you are switched to it’s generic version and it is in fact, Mediwell 8 mg (keep in mind it still says 10 mg on the script, pill and bottle). For some people this may result in the medicine no longer working for you. Or what if it is the generic version, Mediwell 12 mg (keep in mind it still says 10 mg on the script, pill and bottle)? In this case you begin to have side effects you didn’t have before.
Be Informed About Taking Generic Medication
Does this mean you shouldn’t take generics? No, it just means you should be aware if the pill color, shape or size changes. If this occurs you COULD be going from one version to another. It may make absolutely no difference at all or it may make a big difference. A change from 9-10, or 10-11 mg is probably not going to do much. But a change from 8-12 mg, or the reverse, may. The important thing is this. If you are on a generic and your pill changes AND you begin feeling your symptoms return or intolerable side effects you didn’t have before let your doctor know. Otherwise, relax and continue to take your medicine as you always have.
Why not just stay with brand name meds all the time? The reason many people choose to try generics (and personally I am ok with this) is because the price difference between generics and brand can be tremendous. Say $10 vs $300 for the same amount of pills. If you are paying through insurance, insurance will definitely want you to try generics before ever approving a brand. If you are paying out of pocket, the choice is yours. Regardless, whatever you choose your doctor will be there to help you through the process.