TYLER (KYTX) - Nearly half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug every month. And, that can can get expensive, which is why many people choose to buy generic drugs- or your insurance provider may require generics when available. But, do they work just as well? Local health experts break down whether all drugs are created equal.
Tyler neurologist Dr. Gina Jetter says brand name drugs are the exact same every single time we get them, but the Food and Drug Administration doesn't enforce the same kind of consistency in generics. In fact, each batch can vary from the brand name up to 10% at a time.
"Your generics can be off up to 10% off at a time?"
"Yes." says Dr. Jetter. "And, the problem you get into is you may go to your pharmacy and you may get a generic. And then, the next time you get a refill, it's a different generic."
But is 10% really that much of a roller coaster for your body to handle each time you refill your prescription Dr. Jetter says, for certain people, yes.
"Hey! your blood pressure looks great today though! Excellent."
She specializes in epilepsy. Many of her patients take medicine to control their seizures..
"So that you can drive, you can go to work, you can go to school. And, if it's off by even a 10%- and some of the medicines have a very narrow range what they work- less they won't work- more they give you too many side effects."
This roller coaster of medicine levels was too much for Shannon Wilks. She's a heart disease survivor who takes 13 pills per day. She says most of them are brand name.
"Your name brands are much more expensive. But, the outcome of it is that my healthcare is less expensive, if that makes sense. When i ran into an issue with a generic, i was back in the hospital."
Tyler pharmacist David Davis says it's better to go brand name when you're taking medications that work intricately to control issues, like seizures and heart problems.
"Yes, there are some generics that i can take, but the majority of them, especially when you're dealing with your heart or the sensitivity, i don't take any generics." says Wilks. "I have to take the name brand."
But, it depends on the patient.
"Everybody's made up a little bit differently." says Davis. "So, sometimes those meds do work exactly the same."
An obvious advantage to generics is the lower cost. For some patients, it can be the difference between $10 and $300 dollars for a 90-day supply.
"With the huge cost of medicine and healthcare- we as physicians, should try to reduce healthcare costs as much as possible." says Dr. Jetter. "So, if there is a patient on a generic medicine and they are doing well, i will continue them."
Dr. Jetter says generics make sense, economically. So, if you're not having any problems, there's no need to switch to brand name.
Pharmacist David Davis says there are times when generics are practically always a safe bet. Most antibiotics, pain medications, allergy prescriptions, and over the counter medicines are ok to take generic.