The Food and Drug Administration first approved generic Celebrex (celecoxib) on May 30, 2014. Not long after that, we began getting complaints from people in pain. Many maintained that the generic celecoxib their insurance companies forced them to take was not working as well as the brand name Celebrex. Please understand that we have no love for big brand name pharmaceutical companies. We think they charge way too much for many of their patented products. That said, we are not convinced that the FDA’s generic drug approval system is all that it is cracked up to be. That’s why we have often discussed authorized generic drugs as an alternative. But getting an authorized generic celecoxib is not always easy, as this reader describes:
Q. I have suffered for years with painful arthritis and bursitis. Brand-name Celebrex relieved my pain pretty well. When I got switched to generic celecoxib it was useless.
After reading here about the Greenstone authorized generic for Celebrex, I asked my pharmacy to order it. I was told “corporate” makes those decisions, so I contacted an independent pharmacy that ordered the Greenstone product. It took three days, but I am a new person.
What Is An Authorized Generic Drug?
A. Many other readers have complained about some generic celecoxib products not providing good pain relief. An authorized generic drug is made under the exact same specifications as the brand-name pill. Sometimes it is made on the same manufacturing line.
For more details on authorized generic drugs, here is a link:
Do Health Professionals Understand Authorized Generics?
We recently heard from a reader who reported that her doctor did not know what an authorized generic drug was. Surprisingly, the pharmacists she talked to about this were also unfamiliar with the concept.
Ellen in Florida confirmed that many health professionals are clueless:
“I am a clinical pharmacist with a doctorate in my field from University of Michigan. I can attest to every one of these issues raised by patients. Authorized generics are certainly one way to go, but often they cannot be ‘had,’ as they are not in anyone’s ordering system.
“Then there’s the problem with insurance. If the authorized generic is not on the insurance company’s formulary, the insurer will not pay for it. It puts patients in a terrible position. And yes, physicians often do not know the laws regarding generic substitution. It is an education process. The laws are different in every single state, so there’s a lot of work to do!”
Authorized Generic Celecoxib:
Greenstone is a division of Pfizer, and indeed its celecoxib is the authorized generic for Celebrex. This is hardly surprising since Pfizer is the maker of Celebrex. The company wins both ways…on the brand name and on the authorized generic celecoxib.
Betty in Missouri City, Texas, was also successful obtaining an authorized generic celecoxib:
“I was taking Celebrex when the generic formulation came out. Of course, my insurance company switched me to the generic.
“I have had numerous back surgeries and Celebrex was the only thing that actually helped the pain without causing extreme gastro distress. The generic did nothing. It was useless.
“Then I read about authorized generics on your website.
“When I took my Rx to CVS, I requested Greenstone’s authorized generic celecoxib. They had to order it for me, but it made such a difference! Like others, I was to the point that I was willing to pay out of pocket for the brand name Celebrex just to have some relief. Thanks to People’s Pharmacy and authorized generics, I didn’t have to do that.”
Other Readers Report Problems with Generic Celecoxib:
We have heard from so many readers about this problem that we have lost count. The stories are sadly similar. Someone who got relief while taking Celebrex experiences pain after being switched to generic celecoxib. The FDA would likely say it is all in their heads. That is, this is a psychosomatic reaction to a perfectly fine generic formulation.
We doubt that all the generic celecoxib products on the market are a problem. Determining which work and which don’t, however, is a daunting task.
Keep in mind that many of the people who complain about celecoxib have had experience with the brand name Celebrex. They have something to compare the generic to.
Soon, however, very few people will ever experience Celebrex. That’s because a month’s supply can cost anywhere from $360 to $390 dollars. That’s well over $10 a pill and many insurance companies won’t pay for the brand name. Very few patients in pain can afford to pay out of pocket.