A Tidbit of Info That's Good to Know

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A Tidbit of Info That's Good to Know

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pills_medicationToday I just wanted to share a tidbit that I have learned about generic drugs. I lost my full time job seven years ago and along with it medical insurance. I have a fantastic doctor who found alternative medications and generic drugs to keep my costs down.

There was one exception--Synthroid brand name instead of the generic levothyroxine-- that she wanted me to take.  This drug is for hypothyroidism which is pretty common in post-menopausal women.

The reason, she explained, is that the standard for generic drugs is that they can be a certain percentage off of the active ingredient. It could end up being over or under. I don’t remember the percentage. But the reason that she wanted to me to take the Synthroid brand name is because the therapeutic dosage is in micrograms. Hence, since the dosage amount is so tiny and sensitive, the generic can easily be wrong. One batch could be OK, others over or under.

One time I used the generic to save money. Within a month I did notice getting more forgetful, tired and really spacy--all symptoms of low thyroid levels. I asked the pharmacist about it too. He did say lots of people have issues with the generic, others seem to do okay.

The other thing important about this drug is taking on an empty stomach in the morning and not eating for 30 minutes to one hour after taking. My MIL took Synthroid for years because she had her thyroid removed. Not one of her bottles did it say take on empty stomach. So we hadn’t even been giving it to her correctly until I needed the drug and my doctor stressed this issue.

Now I have new insurance this year and finally got approval to use the ‘off formulary’ Synthroid. Unfortunately because of some miscommunication, my mail order three-month supply was filled generic before the approval. And even though I now have approval, they won’t fill it for three months because they already sent the generic. After six weeks of generic I’m feeling the effects again and struggling with words, concentration, etc. (spelling and typing too). Thanks to my doctor who just gave me a supply of samples to last until I can get a refills of the brand name. Problem is it will take a few weeks to get up to normal again. I guess one thing caregiving has taught me is to be persistent and patient. My current mantra is “I will feel better again”.

The other thing caregiving taught me was to do the research on all medications. My MIL might have known about morning dosage on empty stomach, and no grapefruit juice with this one, etc. But after her stroke, we weren't aware of all these details and they were not always on the bottle label.

P.S. My spouse also recently swore one of his regular meds he had been taking for years wasn't working. His doctor and nurse both readily believed it could be that batch of generic. Frustrating.

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EllysGdaughter

I am so glad you shared this. Generic or \"Real\" meds really DOES make a difference for some people! Having a Good Pharmacist dispense the meds rather than mail order really can be more helpful because of the personal instructions they can give but also discuss possible interactions with other meds. My Grandma takes thyroid meds, the real not generic and she just can't deal with the timing anymore. She takes all her 3 meds with her breakfast now and fortunately, for her it hasn't been a problem. When she's had her blood testing, it shows the correct levels, her body has adjusted to taking them with foods :) We relax our expectations on things like this at age 94.5 as long as the quality of life is sustainable. The same is true for blood testing, they want it done every 2-3 months - we've negotiated once or twice a year especially because she has no complaints. Her kidneys are failing and she expects that and will not go with dialysis or replacement! When she was much younger, she was able to follow the protocols, but now, she really has the option with me to do what she wants. When she complains about something, then I bring up that it was her decision to make and she can change it. I am glad she is still fairly reasonable.