Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Generic vs brand name. Is there a difference?

For many years I've been taking an incredibly amount of medications. When my various doctors write up the prescriptions, I have never once questions whether or not I'm going to get a generic vs a brand name medication. I've always figured that they were exactly the same. When a drug company's patent is no longer valid, it's formula is released for that drug and generic manufactures are supposed to recreate exact copies of the brand name medications. The point is that they can make those medications cheaper when they are not brand name. It's all supposed to work in concert, and you the consumer isn't supposed to feel any difference between a brand name medication and it's generic counterpart.

All those years of taking mostly generic medications believing that the drug companies were doing what they were supposed to, following a formula. Chump!

Last month I tottered over to my closest CVS and refilled a bunch of prescriptions including one for IC Furosemide, which is the generic Lasix. I believe the company that manufactured my Furosemide was Mylan.

Now, I take Lasix for a serious heart condition. I have congestive heart failure, and my heart is so stiff that it is unable to pump correctly, this creating a fluid buildup in my lungs. The more fluid I retain, the more labored my breathing becomes, the less able I am to move around, and the sicker I feel. Eventually I need to go to the hospital for diurisis to get ride of the fluid. Each hospitalization can last up to 5 or 6 days and it's expensive and uncomfortable. So I count heavily on my Lasix or it's generic equivalent to work.

But this past prescription just didn't work right. I took my usual dose of 80 mgs 2x/daily, but that wasn't clearing out the fluid. The more the month went on, the more fluid buildup I had. I started increasing the amount of the generic to 120 mgs, but that still didn't work. Doubling it to 160 mgs created pretty awesome muscle cramps as my potassium and magnesium levels got seriously out of balance. Those cramps hurt like a mother!

The fluid buildup affects my sleep, because when I lay down, I get almost a drowning feeling. My lungs can't clear the fluid, I start coughing, which produces a most disgusting pink foam from deep in my lungs. It is really really gross. And horribly uncomfortable. The more I'm drowning in fluid, the more I cough, and the more exhausted I get from lack of sleep. Which makes me grumpy and unpleasant. I know, hard to believe!

I saw my main cardiologist on Thursday and mentioned to her that I was really having trouble clearing my lungs and getting rid of the fluid. I told her I thought that the generic meds I got last month had something wrong with them.

So she wrote me a prescription for brand name, no replacement, Lasix. The first day I took it, it worked like magic. I was down 3 lbs. Today is the second day. I'm almost completely rid of the fluid, and down another 3 lbs. That's SIX pounds of fluid in 2 days. I'm guessing I've got another 3 or 4 lbs to go. Talk about your water weight gain!

I'm pretty ticked that this happened. I'm going to go back to CVS and have a rather serious chat with the pharmacist. I don't know where this generic drug came from, or why it didn't work, but it's not something that anyone else should have to suffer with. I think that batch of meds should be recalled before they kill someone. It's not the pharmacist's fault. They just order the meds from CVS central. But CVS needs to know that this particular batch of generics is either tainted or manufactured incorrectly.

As if I don't have enough in my life to worry about!

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Blogger Michelle said...

Wow. I'm glad you figured out what could be causing the problem before something serious happened. I've never had an issue w/ generics, but my brother can only use a particular name-brand asthama med, the generic equiv. doesn't work at all. Hmm...heart meds and breathing meds, you'd think they'd make sure THOSE kinds of generic meds would work properly!

1/6/08 1:07 PM  
OpenID dube said...

I found this through a friend's blog... With some medicine, there is definitely a difference between generic & the real deal. I know some people who will never accept generic meds now because of this.

1/6/08 5:39 PM  
OpenID surpriseofunfolding said...

Here from NCLM - very interesting post, and rather scary too. I am sorry to hear you have so many medical issues you need to watch for. I was always under the impression that the generic ought to work the same as the patented medication, but this is really a wake up call.

I am glad to hear you & your doc got it sorted out and you are feeling much better. 6 pounds of fluid just sounds scary to me. thank goodness you got it figured out.

1/6/08 9:20 PM  
Blogger Flutterby said...

The main ingredient, the actual medicine, has to be the same. However, there are often the fillers, supposedly inert ingredients, the things that make up the *bulk* of the pill, to form it or fill out the capsule or whatever, that is often different. And some people can react badly to those. For others they are a financial lifesaver... as long as they work properly.

2/6/08 2:58 PM  

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