Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1360 Generic Headaches

An interesting piece of Big Pharma propaganda floated into the mailbox the other day.  It was a not-too-well-veiled pitch to buy name brand drugs instead of generics.

It comes from the bleeding heart altruists at GlaxoSmithKline. 

Nothing off about the message, delivered in brilliantly illustrated large-type format with attractive modernistic if somewhat abstract  cartoon figures representing doctor, patient and pharmacist. 

And it has proportionately huge pill bottles and a handy form to give to the druggist to make sure that you get the brand name drug when your doctor wants you to have it.

So far, a snow job, right?  "Buy our stuff even though it costs much more than the supposedly similar generics."

Guess what?

They're not completely wrong.

In order to sell generics, a company has to pass a test:  does the same amount of active ingredient reach the blood as fast and at the same speed and with the same power as the brand name.  That's it.  The tests are conducted on relatively small numbers of healthy patients.  At least that's what the propaganda cartoon figures say.

Other stuff in the generic pills may affect you differently from those of the brand name.  And there are an awful lot of inactive ingredients.

  Generic antidepressants are, well, depressing.  And in at least one documented case, ineffective. 

And it's not just antidepressants.

This also is true about some over the counter remedies.  Generic Ibuprofen does not work as well as Advil.  Again, an anecdote, not a set of statistics.

It's not fair when the drug store substitutes a generic and doesn't tell you.  And the generics usually look a lot like the real thing.

But with medicine costing what it costs these days, many of us are in a bind. Some states even require druggists to substitute generics for real.

If the generic doesn't work as well as the brand name, it's Lipitor for breakfast and Hyzaar for lunch and Kibbles 'N Bits for dinner.  Friskies Ocean Whitefish and Tuna Dinner for dinner on Sundays.

Shrapnel:

--Investor Bill Ackman made “the most important presentation of my life” in which he reaffirmed his zero target price for Herbalife and his belief that it’s a scam and preys on poor people with implied promises of easy, steady money.  The response:  the stock rose and Herbalife threatened to sue him.

--Israel says Ben Gurion International is perfectly safe and doesn’t understand the American and European airlines that have been banned from flying there.  After all, the Hamas missile landed more than a mile away.  Nothing here to worry about, travelers… they may have missiles, but they also have lousy aim.

Radio salute:  This is Wessay #1360.  When the post number coincides with an AM radio frequency, we do a shout out.  Today’s is to WWOW, Conneaut, Ohio… Boomer Tunes and NBC News.  It takes guts to do Oldies on AM in the 21st Century. And more should.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address hate mail to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

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