RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — Are generic prescriptions really the same as brand name drugs?
Most people buy generic prescription drugs over the brand name because buying the generic version can save money, but 8News Investigator Kerri O’Brien has discovered some concerns with generics.
O’Brien spoke with Justin Seigler a competitive ballroom dancer who has epilepsy and when taking a generic prescription he noticed he didn’t feel right.
“The side effects were much worse. Headaches, every single morning headaches and most of the time pain killers didn’t do anything,” said Seigler.
The FDA requires all generics to have the same active ingredients as the brand names, but the inactive ingredients can be very different.
“It’s the inactive ingredients that are going to vary to the brand and the generic and even between one generic to another generic company,” said Pharmacist Baylor Rice.
Rice is a pharmacist and the president of South River Compounding Pharmacy in Chesterfield and he says those inactive ingredients are usually fillers and binders.
“It can be something as simple as talc, corn starch, magnesium stearate, lactose,” said Rice.
The fillers in generic drugs can change how a drug is released into your system.
Pharmacists and doctors tell 8News they’ve seen patients who have been stable for years on a brand name drug suddenly struggle never suspecting the generic drug was the cause.
Dr. Tod Cooperman who runs Consumerlab.com began testing the generic version of the an anti-depressant Wellbutrin. When patients complained that it wasn’t working he found out some shocking reasons.
“The medication was just coming out so much faster from than the generic than the brand name medication. It turned out the FDA had never even tested the generic version,” said Dr. Cooperman.
So what’s a consumer to do? Ask your doctor and pharmacists about differences between the generic and brand name. Have them lay out the ingredients for you. If there is something you have sensitivity to pharmacists can compound something for you with a doctor’s note.
Right now there is no legal recourse for someone who believes they were harmed by a generic drug. The U.S. Supreme Court generic drug makers don’t share the same responsibility as brand name drug makers is warning consumers about risks. Although the FDA is considering a change to their rules.