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September 02, 2010

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If you're switching to something more side-effect-ridden, it's not a generic. It's a different, possibly similar, drug. Don't swallow the PharMa line that generics are somehow different or inferior. They're the same drug, manufactured by another company (sometimes at the same plant on the same equipment, even), but sold without the cost markup after being tested and found to be medically identical.

Sounds like you're switching to an alternative drug that happens to be cheaper on your insurers' formulary instead. Often similar (but more side-effect-ridden) drugs are negotiated to a cheaper price in formulary negotiations between drug makers and insurers. Of course pay to play for positioning on insurer formularies was totally solved by the Health Care reform laws, right? Drug manufacturers had no incentive to cut an early deal with the administration to keep that, or Medicare negotiating over drug prices, off the table, did they?

"... and found to be medically identical."

Identical in the sense of efficacy. It doesn't have to have the same level of side effects so long as the difference doesn't materially interfere with the action of the medication. As an over-the-counter example, take aspirin. Generic aspirin is the same as a brand name like Bayer, right? It turns out that the filler Bayer uses is much more water-vapor resistant than most generic makers. Since water neutralizes aspirin, the Bayer aspirin stays good longer than the no-name stuff.

It's similar in my case. The side effect of the med is based on how fast it is absorbed by the stomach; the slower the absorption, the less the side effect. The brand name med has fillers that do a very good job of slowly releasing the active ingredient. The generic does not.

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