Wednesday, August 13, 2008

#435 Generics

#435 Generics

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. First of all, how can you trust someone that has three names with no spaces between them but keeps the capital letters at the start of each name. Something a little off about that.

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 GSK cartoon figures say.

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

And if you look for and at the anecdotes on countless blogs and websites, you'll find a lot of complaints, especially about generic antidepressants.

Those complaints are hereby seconded here. Generic antidepressants are, well, depressing. And in at least one documented case, ineffective.

And it's not just antidepressants.

It's also 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.

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.


--Corn prices are still rising. Except in local supermarkets. Ah, the free market at work!

--You think all this stuff going on in former Soviet Georgia doesn't matter to America? Think again. The breakaway province could be re-named "Pipeline Junction," and the fighting could start major trouble between Washington and Moscow.

Real Shrapnel:
--It's august and they've just finished investigating the explosion death in Virginia last February of a guy who was cleaning a Civil War era cannonball that exploded. They don't make investigations like they used to -- or cannon balls, for that matter.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(R)
(C)WJR 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My name is Laura Arena and i would like to show you my personal experience with Lipitor.

I am 58 years old. Have been on Lipitor for 6 months now. It did lower my total cholesterol from 235 to 200.

I have experienced some of these side effects-
After three months on Lipitor, I started to feel like an airhead -- slightly dizzy virtually all the time and frequently unable to think clearly. I actually started to wonder if I were developing early Alzheimer's (I'm 58). After five months, I developed severe pain in my thighs and knees and I'm exhausted all the time.

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Laura Arena

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