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Generic Drugs Hammered | Are AUTHORIZED Generics the Answer?

The FDA has been criticized for its oversight of generic drugs. Major news stories this week dealt a blow to this industry. What about authorized generics?
Generic Drugs Hammered | Are AUTHORIZED Generics the Answer?
FDA Approved words on an orange pill or medicine bottle with long shadow

This has been a very bad week for generic drug manufacturers and the FDA. Here are just a few of the stories that have made headlines. “A New Book Argues That Generic Drugs Are Poisoning Us” (New York Times, May 13, 2019). “Americans Need Generic Drugs. But Can They Trust Them?” (New York Times, May 11, 2019). “Allegations of widespread fraud raise questions about the safety of generic drugs made overseas” (CBS News, May, 10, 2019). “Generic drug companies, executives slapped with price-fixing lawsuit” (CNN, May 13, 2019). “60 Minutes Reports: Prescription Drug Price Fixing” (60 Minutes Overtime, May 12, 2019). Are AUTHORIZED generic drugs an answer?

This reader wants to know About Effective Generic Drugs:

Q. I really appreciate the information I get from your newsletter. From reading it, I learned about authorized generic drugs.

I began using the generic of Celebrex from Greenstone about two years ago and noticed a marked difference from taking ordinary generic celecoxib.

Now, I’ve been told that Greenstone is no longer producing this authorized generic. Do you have any suggestions where I can obtain the quality generic for Celebrex? I am looking for a 100 mg dose.

A. Greenstone is a subsidiary of Pfizer. As a result, this generic drug maker distributes a number of authorized generic versions of Pfizer brand-name medications.

An authorized generic is one licensed by the brand-name maker. It may be manufactured in the same plant or even on the same production line as its brand-name equivalent.

Unlike most other generic drugs, an authorized generic is made to the exact same “recipe.” Consequently, most people report reacting to these generic drugs the same way they respond to the brand-name counterparts.

Disappointment with celecoxib:

We have heard from many other readers that they were disappointed with some of the generic versions of celecoxib. They say they don’t get the same pain relief that they got from Celebrex.

Stories from Readers:

Terry reports this failure:

“I’ve been on Celebrex for almost 10 years for fibromyalgia and inflammatory arthritis. The brand name gave me much relief. When I had to change insurance companies, I had to use generic celecoxib. I’ve tried several different manufacturers, and NONE work as well as the brand.”

Cathie agrees with Terry:

“You are correct that the generic Celebrex is NOT the same. I had an old prescription and noticed that the original works. The drug insurance plans are crooks. They know it doesn’t work the same. Shame on on these companies to make patients suffer.”

Pieter used to get relief from Celebrex:

“I have used Celebrex for years for my back pain. It always helped after taking about 5 tablets over 5 days. Last year I was told by my doctor to start using celecoxib – because it is now generic and paid for by insurance!

“Over the last 4 months I have used 120 celecoxib tablets and my pain has not improved. In fact it has gotten worse. Am I the only person that is experiencing this result? I am of the belief that celecoxib is a generic tablet and DEFINITELY does not have the same pain relief?”

Rebecca says she can tell the difference quickly:

“Celecoxib does not meet the standards of brand name Celebrex! It is ineffective, and that was obvious to me within days of taking the generic instead of the real drug. It is very disappointing that insurance refuses to pay for the real drug, and some will not even pay for the generic. The difference in the two is very noticeable almost immediately.”

Shirley had experience with Celebrex:

“I tried celecoxib for 6 months in 2017 after being on Celebrex for YEARS. I experienced swelling and pain from this worthless generic. I started taking 2 daily and I still got no relief. My rheumatologist said not to take 2 pills daily. Medicaid punished me for getting Celebrex by charging me almost $400 for a 3 month’s supply. They care not that this generic is NOTHING like Celebrex.”

Gay has suffered!

“Over the last 6 months I have become more and more debilitated by joint pain…hips, knees, wrists, spine, etc. I suddenly felt very old! It was depressing.

“Then it dawned on me that Medicare switched from sending me Celebrex to sending celecoxib. Body pain flared up to horrific labels.

“I can’t afford Medicare’s cost for Celebrex but I can buy it cheaper in Canada. That is what I plan to do. I also plan to get my migraine meds there. I am heading online to order at a fraction of the price.”

Greenstone’s Celecoxib is Available:

We checked with Greenstone and learned the company still offers authorized generic celecoxib in a range of doses. Your pharmacist may have to special order them, however.

Here is a list of authorized generic drugs along with the manufacturers. We hope you find it helpful:

You will find a lot more information about authorized generic drugs in our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines. You will also learn about Canadian pharmacies. This online resource is available in our Health Guide Library.

Share your own generic drug story in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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