October is American Pharmacists Month. All month long we are sharing education, debunking myths, offering resources and providing tips that can help improve an individual’s quality of life, from our very own PGY2 Pharmacy Resident, Dr. Hanna Hollingsworth. Hospice of Southern Illinois, in collaboration with SIUE School of Pharmacy, has 1 of 18 total PGY2 Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacy Residency Programs in the country and the only accredited one that is fully funded by a hospice. Learn more about our PGY2 Program and all the benefits it offers to individuals, families, and your care team: https://hospice.org/pharmacy-residency-program/.
Myth #2: Brand name medications work better than generics
You get what you pay for, right? Well, not necessarily when it comes to generic versus brand name medications. Generic drugs have the same active ingredients as their brand name counterparts and are required by the FDA to prove “bioequivalency.” Bioequivalency essentially means the generic version will work in the human body the same way that the brand name drug would. Keep in mind that brand name drugs are also much more expensive than generic drugs and many insurance companies do not pay for the brand name product when a generic is available.
It should be noted, however, that it is recommended some medications should not be interchanged for one another. Most commonly this is important with anti-seizure medications since switching versions (brand to generic or generic to generic) may increase the risk of breakthrough seizure or other bad events. While bioequivalency is a safe standard for most drugs, bioequivalency does not mean the generic drug will result in the exact same levels in the blood, there is room for a little leniency. This can potentially explain why anti-seizure medications, where small changes in dose and drug level in the blood can lead to treatment failure or serious side effects, are typically recommended to stay with the same generic (or brand).
Now you’re probably asking if the myth was actually busted. Mostly, at least! The important message to take away is that the vast majority of medications are safe and effective to interchange from brand to generic or from generic to another generic. Continue to be your own advocate though, and always ask your pharmacist if you have a question about your medications changing.
Learn more about hospice care: www.hospice.org/ourcare/