Generic drugs are supposed to be identical to their brand-name counterparts, but they are much cheaper. That's why so many insurance companies and HMOs insist upon their use.

Reports have been cropping up that suggest not all generic drugs meet the high quality standards Americans expect. We get perspectives from the generic drug manufacturers, a scientist analyzing FDA adverse event data, and an investigative journalist who took a year to look into the issue.

Guests: Kathleen Jaeger, president and CEO of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association

Thomas J. Moore, senior scientist at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices

Katherine Eban, investigative journalist specializing in health care. Author of Dangerous Doses: A True Story of Cops, Counterfeiters and the Contamination of America's Drug Supply and of "Bad Bargain," an article in the June issue of SELF. The photo is of Ms. Eban.

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  1. GLS

    Is there a difference between generic Warfarin and brand Coumadin? Some doctors say they’re the same and some say they’re not. One medical sales person told me that as long as the generic manufacturers product was within 85% of the brands make up the FDA approved it. Is there a way to research and find the correct answer?
    My wife has been on brand Coumadin for over twenty years. About twenty years ago her PCP at the time switched her to generic Warfarin because her insurance co. was pushing it. She had a reaction, and her PCP put her back on brand Coumadin and told her do not substitute from now on. Now every time we have to change PCP’s for some reason or the other, the new staff comes up with it’s all the same. We need help to find a answer if you can. Thank you!

  2. ann

    Was taking a generic zoloft and they switched me to another generic.I don’t seem to be getting the same results with the present one. Is it my imagination or could it be different?

  3. laya

    I had Blue Cross insurance and was purchasing Ambien (the Brand) for $80 for a 3 mo supply. I had to change insurance companies and now have Medco. For the same 3 mo supply the charge is now $735! They say they offer generic and refuse to offer the Brand. Two doctors stated that I need the Brand and Medco still refused to waive the price difference. The generic is not as good and will cause GI upset. It is my theory that the drug company can and will put less of the active ingredient in the generic form.

  4. Dave in Georgia

    I have been on various narcotic pain meds for chronic pain due to a severely broken back 12 yrs ago. I had been using name brand fentanyl trans-dermal patches for a number of years until a few yrs ago when a generic became available. My insurance company insisted on my switching to the generic which I was grateful for at first because my copay was more than a $100.00 less than what I had been paying.
    Unfortunately, within 48 hrs of putting on the very first generic patch I was in the ER experiencing full blown withdrawal. The strength of the generic was not even close to the name brand. Consequently, I’ve ended up having an intrathecal pump implanted in order to get the pain relief needed and that I once was getting from the name brand fentanyl patch. It should be criminal to endanger someone with inferior generic drugs.

  5. nicolasa

    i happened to hear today’s show, and katherine eban mentioning wellbutrin. i am on 450mg of generic budeprion, and have felt little relief from my depression. the doctor’s response has been to up the dosage to the max allowable. i want to know where i can find more info about this. thank you

  6. RJR

    I took a generic equivalent for Benicar for high blood pressure and was left with a long-lasting cough. I had to return to the expensive Benicar.

  7. J French

    Listening to the generic drug show and wondering if mail order generic medicines through Medco can be trusted more than at a local pharmacy.

  8. BAC

    I was switched by Walgreens to generic Zoloft. That form gave me an upset stomach each time I used it. I only use 50 mgs, so I am not sure about other issues, like effectiveness. I was able to get my provider to write for the original form.
    As a former psychotherapist, myself, I am concerned about this use of generics which are not well controlled.

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