Your point of looking up drug risks is a good one. I recently spent over an hour with a Doctor who is an expert in pharmacology to see if any of my medications were or could interact.
I have been working on an article about Generic Drug companies. Most of the generic drugs come from companies either owned by Teva or Novartis they are big rivals. Each owns hundreds of smaller companies. The business model owning generic drug companies is you do not have to pay for Research and Development, advertising, and you really can't get sued (the name brands get sued). It is pretty hard to even find out who makes a generic you are on. Teva buys several generic companies a month. The only place they do not own generic companies I think is China. These drugs as with brand name drugs are manufactured all over world. It is pretty hard to find out who even makes your generic it is not usually on your medicine bottle unless you get the original packaging. Even then It is hard to trace the company or compound.
India and Russia are the fastest growing places for drug manufacturing. I have to laugh when we are told we in the US have to pay more for drugs because they are developed here and manufactured here. Novartis is Switzeland and Teva Israel. Or buying drugs from overseas is unsafe. It is hard to find out where your drugs were actually made. Most come from overseas and the USDA does not inspect them or the plants they are made in overseas.
My generic Immitrex for migraine is made in India by one of Teva's companies (Dr. Reddy). It says do not break tablets however they are so poorly made they always break as I take them out of the blister pack they come in. I get an insert with it because it is the original package. You can sometimes get the original insert from the pharmacist they throw them away and sometimes the drug companies send extra ones.
I am okay with generics for two reasons personally. I can't afford the co pays for other drugs and once a drug has been around long enough to go to generic it has been on the market long enough for many of the safety issues to have been worked out. Mostly law suits are on the newer drugs. I have Doctors who will only prescribe drugs which have gone to generic because they do not trust the latest drug on the market.
In some cases a generic may not work as well as a name brand. If a generic does not work people can get the name brand. I sometimes use a generic I know is less effective since I can not afford anything but generic copays with my insurance.
For many people insurance companies and in your case the VA prefers generics regardless of what your doctor decides.
I'm not against generics either. My point was that when you get a generic drug the information may not be entirely correct on their inserts as they are not required to update the info like the brand name drugs are.
The specific case that the court was ruling on involved a healthy woman that was given a generic drug for acid reflux. After taking the drug she developed severe neurological problems from the drug. After wards her family found out that the brand name maker of the drug had taken the drug off the market because it could cause these problems. But the generic drug company just kept on selling the drug without any warning of this problem.
I always check the inserts on drugs I am given and have on a couple of occasions had to call my doctor because of indication on the insert that I should not take it while on another medication. The pharmacy is supposed to check this but missed the interaction issue.
But for a drug to be sold in the US, it has to meet the standards defined in the US Pharmacopeia (USP). This includes standard for potency, dissolution, bioavailability, etc. There is very little (although there is some - usually in the inert ingredients) difference between generics and branded drugs.
I did just read about this supreme court ruling in the paper this morning.
The Supreme court said "that makers of generic drugs cannot be sued for failing to warn customers of the possible side effects of their products IF they copy the exact warnings of the brand-name equivalents of the medications."
Federal law requires the same labeling, state law requires additional warnings. The court said federal law prevails.
While I think that it makes little sense not to provide additional/new info regarding new info on drugs, I think the problem lies in the original federal law, not the supreme court ruling.
We as consumers must always be hyper vigilant, especially when it comes to the stuff we put into our bodies.
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