Q. I am extremely sensitive to lactose (milk sugar). My insurance company wants me to switch from Lipitor (which I take with a Lactaid pill) to a generic version, but the generic manufacturer refuses to tell me how much lactose their pills contain. We patients really can’t consider generic medicines identical to the brand name pills if the companies won’t come clean on their inactive ingredients.
A. We are dismayed that the company won’t give you this crucial information. It may not matter to most people, but for someone who is sensitive to lactose, it could make a huge difference.
Without the enzyme lactase to break down milk sugar, this product can cause a great deal of discomfort. Bloating, gas and diarrhea are the most common side effects.
One reader wrote us:
“I have had stomach pain and diarrhea for years, but over the last few months it reached a crisis. The pain was so bad I couldn’t get comfortable sitting or even lying down. My stomach swelled up like a beach ball.
“My doctor didn’t know what was wrong. I finally asked my pharmacist if any of my pills had milk sugar (lactose). Every single one of the half dozen pills I take contains lactose. Even though I am extremely careful about my diet (no dairy), I had no idea that my pills were poisoning me.”