All generic Rx not created equal
May 16, 2008
Low-cost generic prescription medications may not be the magic pill to reduce the cost of doctor-recommended drugs, some pharmacists say.
While a number of grocery stores and retailers have slashed the price of generic prescriptions, some remain wary.
"Discounts are a good way to get a lot of people to come in," said Steve Hamilton, The Market in Park City’s pharmacy. "But that’s not a very professional or ethical way to do business. It causes a lot of people to come and they don’t get what they want."
Generic prescription medications are required to carry the same active ingredients as their brand-name counterparts. Most consumers assume generics have the same dose and strength as name-brand medicines, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires.
But sometimes inactive ingredients vary slightly from brand-name counterparts and react differently than standard medications, some say.
"An active ingredient is the part of the drug that clears the throat of strep, for example," Hamilton said. "An inactive ingredient preserves and protects what’s inside [a tablet]."
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Hamilton said medicines are made less dense, which affects the amount of time it takes for the body to break down the capsule or tablet ingest pharmacological ingredients.
"I’m very careful about selecting brands I’m familiar with," Hamilton said. "You really need to look at the history and reputation of a company to make sure they’re producing high-quality products."
One trick for consumers to keep in mind as they select prescription drugs is to find generics made by the same company as name-brand products. "Some generics are made on the same assembly line as the other medicines, but they cost less," Hamilton said.
Last week, Smith’s Food & Drug Stores in-store pharmacies expanded their generic drug program to offer customers lower prices and additional drug choices. The retailer is offering 90-day prescriptions for $10.
The program is geared toward people with ongoing medical ailments such as high cholesterol and osteoporosis. "These are difficult times and we’re looking for ways to help people save money," said spokeswoman Marsha Gilford.