8/12/2014 3:00 PM ET|
4 prescription drug myths debunked
The truth behind the price difference between generic and brand-name drugs.
When it comes to prescription drugs, there’s a lot of information out there. There’s also a lot of misinformation – and some of it could be costing you.
According to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, Americans spent over $325 billion on prescription medications in 2012, a number that is expected to rise in coming years. Billions of dollars could be saved on prescriptions (and better spent elsewhere), but not everyone understands why.
Here are some of the most common and costly myths surrounding prescription drugs, along with the truth behind them.
'My doctor prescribed it, so I must need it'
Your doctor has years of training and medical expertise and can be a trusted source of information, but doctors aren’t perfect. Their values vary widely, and some may prescribe drugs when they aren’t needed – or worse, not check to see if they interact negatively with your current drugs. Recent research suggests that medicine is often prescribed in the U.S. when other interventions may be more appropriate. These could be relatively simple interventions, like making changes in diet and exercise.
There are a few simple steps you can take to avoid being overprescribed or misprescribed a medication. First, make sure you keep a list of your current medications and any side effects you experience, so you can inform your doctor. Second, let your doctor know at the beginning of the appointment that you’d like to have as few prescriptions as possible while still maintaining your health and that you’re open to lifestyle adjustments. Lastly, make sure you understand the need for any new medication. You should never passively agree to a treatment regimen before understanding why you’re using it.
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'Brand-name drugs are more expensive because they're better'
It’s easy to understand why this myth exists, since generic drugs aren’t as heavily advertised as brand-name drugs. In truth, brand-name drugs cost much more (about 80 to 85 percent, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) because the pharmaceutical companies selling them spent billions of dollars and many years conducting research to prove the drugs are safe and will work as intended. As a sort of compensation for that investment, the FDA grants a company exclusivity to sell the drug for a period after it is approved.
At the end of the exclusivity period, which varies depending on the type of drug, other companies can manufacture and sell the drug. Since they just have to find the formulation of the active ingredient, generics companies are able to sell the drug at a fraction of the cost. Because brand names are already widely recognizable thanks to years of advertising and exclusivity, the original manufacturer can keep charging higher prices even after research costs have been recouped. Often, the original company will manufacture both the brand-name version and generic version of the drug in the same factory and sell both.
'The FDA allows a 45 percent difference in effectiveness between generic and brand-name medication'
Along with the previous myth, this one stops a lot of people from inquiring about generics. The truth is that the FDA requires the same potency, efficacy, safety and quality for all drugs with the same active ingredient, whether they are brand-name or generic drugs. In fact, when it comes to generics and their brand-name counterparts, the only differences the FDA allows are with inactive ingredients, such as preservatives and binding agents, and those that affect appearance.
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Those inactive ingredients may cause side effects in some people, but this is equally likely for the inactive ingredients in brand-name drugs. People most likely to experience these side effects are those with known allergies to foods or other drugs. For most individuals, however, generic drugs will work just as well as brand-name drugs, and switching can save a lot of money. In 2012 alone, generics saved American consumers about $217 billion.
'Newer drugs are better than drugs that have been on the market for years'
This myth isn’t entirely false. Advances in science and technology have paved the way for a variety of drugs on the market. For instance, safe and effective daily oral pills are now available for diseases like multiple sclerosis, for which only injectables were available until recently. While this is great for MS sufferers, the success isn’t necessarily transferable to other diseases. For those suffering with a frustrating or painful illness, the allure of a new drug can be enticing, even if the disease is currently well managed.
Yes, it takes a long time and a lot of research to make sure a drug is safe and effective before the FDA approves it, but data collection doesn’t stop there. Even after a drug is approved, adverse reactions and serious adverse events are sometimes reported through the FDA’s MedWatch system, and manufacturers update the product’s labeling accordingly. Sometimes, the FDA requires additional package warnings or even reverses drug approval if new data are strong enough. The truth is that the longer a drug is on the market, the more data are available to back its safety.
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This is good advice. Part of the problem is so many prescription pharma ads on TV in the US -- as if adding a chemical with loads of potential side effects is going to be the panacea the ad campaign might suggest. Never underestimate the gullibility of the general populace -- and blind faith in physicians, 50% of whom graduated in the bottom half of their class.
As always, one size never fits all. There are GOOD drugs out there, some of them brand new. For oncology, for example. But there are loads of treatments that could be avoided by changing diet and eliminating other lifestyle scourges. And polypharmacy is one of the worst medical problems in Western society -- it's a major cause of dementia.
Most of what you hear about generics is BS. My doctor prescribed ED meds for me.
The one that works best for me is Levitra. Go to a pharmacy and see what they cost.
Insurance doesn't cover it. Try $22 a pill, and doesn't matter if they are 5, 10, 20mg, or whatever.
I decided to try Canadian Pharmacy. You know what they cost now? LESS THAN $2 EACH!!!
DELIVERED TO MY DOOR!! I can get 120 for the price of 10.
The drug companies should be ashamed of themselves.
I will never buy it from a local pharmacy again.
My post regarding the side effects of Fluoroquinolones was deleted...interesting. Bayer and Johnson and Johnson must be paying MSN for advertising. Anyway, do not let your family take any antibiotics from the Fluoroquinolone family. These antibiotics include Cipro, Avelox, Levaquin and more. Many of the older Fluoroquinolones have been taken off the market due to horrific side effects, the newer ones are not any better. A list of side effects include: tendon rupture, permanent nerve damage, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, cornea rupture, insomnia...the list goes on and on. These drugs do mitochondrial damage and actually change the DNA inside your mitochondria. So yes folks, these drugs do long lasting and sometimes permanent DNA damage. There are many, many many other drugs out there that do horrific damage as well. Big Pharma does not care and wants to keep making money. Guess what making you sicker does for them, it makes them more money! And half of congress and the FDA is in their back pocket. The only person that can protect themselves is you. Do your research and don't blindly trust your doc or pharmacist because who did they get there information from...bingo! Big Pharma. Look up Bayer and Nazi Germany. Is this a company that you want to trust your health to?
I worked Big Pharma manufacturing R&D (manufacturing quality systems). The truth is manufacturing drugs is like manufacturing anything else: people with better talent and better manufacturing machines make better product.
You can tell to yourself that Kia Rio is manufactured to the same quality specifications as Mercedes C220, but anyone who ever sat in a 10 yrs old Kia and 10 yrs old Mercedes knows this is not true.
The issue is if you really need the highest quality drug. Some drugs are still safe even if they are not manufactured to the highest specification mankind can muster, others - you are probably better off with the brand product.
A lot depends on your own body as well - some people will tolerate lower purity active substance, or a cheaper inactive "filler" just fine, others will suffer side-effects with a generic drug, while the brand medication will work for them (other way around possible as well).
In same cases the generic drug will use a release agent that is not up to spec and that makes the drug overall less effective.
Taking one medicine, started out at 6 a day, at $90 a pill, now taking another, as the original has been pulled off the market, and new one is a fraction of the cost, about $13 a month, and only one pill every other day. Problem with those medicines, they affected my pancreas, and now I'm type II diabetic.
Up here, we had a pharmaceutical manufacturer, now relocated to Puerto Rico, because of manufacturing costs, and the C.E.O. benefits. Bunch of employees lost everything when that company moved, including their great health insurance and other benefits. Not so the senior management.
All in all, the drug business supports, big time, our national leaders, of both parties, to make sure any laws being, or are written, or enforced, to benefit them.
First off, the FDA is not protecting us, they are in bed with Big Pharma and so are many of the politicians supposedly elected to protect us.
Secondly generics are not all they are cracked up to be. Say you have a horrible life changing adverse reaction to a medication, then want to sue. Well, if you took a generic, the generic manufactures are released from all liability. So you got the generic because your insurance charged through the nose for brand, you then say had a heart attack and now have a pace maker due to a side affect from the med, you are sh1t out of luck and cannot sue the company that manufactured the generic drug.
Thirdly most big pharma drugs are dangerous, much more dangerous then we're told and are only taken off the market after an unspeakable amount of lives are destroyed. Don't take newer drugs, the long term side effects are not known! Even something as innocuous as an antibiotic can have life altering side affects: Doctors hand out Cipro and Levequin like candy for ear infections, sore throats, bladder infections etc. Most of these illnesses will go away on their own or with a little Penicillin. Keep your family safe, stay as far away from big pharma as much as possible. Eat whole organic foods, exercise and stop killing yourself with drugs while lining the pockets of the greedy and ruthless.
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