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Are People Who Complain About Generic Drugs Nut Jobs?

Q. Never, never, never trust random folks on the internet for med advice. Generic drugs have to be the exact same thing as the brand name by law. The bioavailability as well as the delivery system also has to be the same.

Please dont read advice from nut jobs who have no clue what they are talking about. They allow their subjective feelings to interfere, when in reality, their body doesn’t know the difference between the generics and brand name. NONE. It’s called the nocebo effect. M.N.


Dear MN,

Did you know that when the patent for a particular drug runs out and generic competition is permitted that the delivery system frequently remains under patent. That means the generic manufacturer has to come up with a different system. This is especially true for long-acting formulations.

Most people (including health professionals) assume that the generic manufacturer can create an identical copy-cat version of the brand name. You seem to fall into that category. You are mistaken.

You assert that the generic has to be “the exact same thing” as the branded product. We invite you to read the FDA’s own report about Budeprion XL 300 compared to Wellbutrin XL 300. You will discover that the FDA permitted a different curve for release of the active drug (bupropion). Here is a link to the data

Should you wish to read the FDA’s own report, please visit this link and see the difference for yourself. Please look carefully at the curves the FDA provides. Note that the tests were on Budeprion XL 150 compared to Wellbutrin XL 150. The FDA never required the manufacturer to actually test a 300 mg product.

Please do not be so quick to dismiss visitors to this website as “nut jobs.” When someone who has been on Keppra for years and successfully controlled his epilepsy suddenly starts having breakthrough seizures after being switched to the generic formulation (levetiracetam), we think there is a problem. That is not a “nocebo” effect. There are many such cases here

For those with an open mind who would like to learn more about the generic drug scandal in America we have a whole chapter on this topic in our book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them. We think physicians, pharmacists, insurance companies and the FDA should read this material to understand why we no longer have confidence in the regulatory system. And we promise, we are not paid by brand name drug companies. We have long championed generic drug substitution, but with so many medications made in China and India without FDA oversight we no longer believe that all generic drugs are “the exact same thing as the brand name.”

In fact we can’t always count on brand name drugs to be safe. Recently the manufacturer of a pricey drug for cancer announced that there were counterfeit copies of Avastin in the U.S. drug supply chain. Learn more about this mess and alert your health care providers. We’re not all “nut jobs.”

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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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