Concerta Generics: Dealing with the Pharmacy


Hi folks, this is a quick post on the continuing saga of Concerta’s new generics.

Two big mail-order pharmacies I spoke with said that the customer can specify which generic should be used—but only if the prescribing physician writes it on the script.

For example: “OROS generic only.”

(The company marketing the brand-generic, Watson, has a new name: Actavis. During the transition, t’s best not to specify by Watson or Actavis. Instead, use the name for the technology that makes Concerta Concerta: OROS.)

This might also applyfor walk-in pharmacies. I wouldn’t know, because dealing with stimulant refills every month is a headache I don’t want (I take care of this for my husband). Filling it four times a year can be hassle enough, now that these generics have been unleashed. But it is a lot easier overall!  Check out my post Tip: Home Delivery of Stimulant Medications.

Please don’t let any pharmacist convince you that the Mallinckrodt and Kudco/Kremers-Urban generics of Concerta are the same as brand. They are not.

For background on this topic, read An Update on Generic Concerta.

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18 thoughts on “Concerta Generics: Dealing with the Pharmacy”

  1. I was just wondering when you collect concerta for the pharmacy is the medication allows to be in a glass bottle that doesn’t have a silver seal on the top?

    1. Hi Jess,

      I have never seen (not in my adulthood anyway) a glass bottle from the pharmacy for pills. What kind of pharmacy was this?

      Also, I don’t recall any prescription pills from the pharmacy being sealed foil or plastic.


  2. Hi Gina,
    I have been filling my Concerta prescription at Walgreens for the last year and getting the Alza form of it. A little over two weeks ago I filled it at CVS and got the Kremers version. I have been EXTRA anxious about everything, hold my breath a lot, get headache, can’t sleep, nauseous, achy and feel light headed; but the real killer is that I can’t think for most of the day. My thoughts feel like two “thought” trains heading for each other and crashing as I try to speak. I am in sales, so not being able to think can really put a stopper in activities. I was so confused about what was going on with me, and really started to freak out, until I found this site.

    I went back to CVS and told them my reaction and they told me it was an approved generic and they could do nothing with out a doctors approval. I have to say I was really dissapointed in this whole experience with the pharmacy. And I hate how they treat me like I am going to do something bad with the drugs!

    Anyways, I can not be on this another day! I want to write a review about how bad the Kremers is so that others will know before they except it from their pharmacy.

    1. Hi Merit,

      Another sad example of these generic-manufacturers messing with people’s lives, with apparent impunity. It’s galling.

      I hope you will remain a loyal Walgreens’ customer because that chain seems to reliably carry the Alza and Watson generic, especially compared to CVS. Or, try a mail-order pharmacy.

      If you can, please file a complaint with the FDA and really let your voice be heard:

      Good luck!

    2. Thanks for sharing your experience, Merit.

      It seems as thought CVS is not going to be a source of the authorized generic; from other reports, Walgreen’s is more reliable.

      But, overall, I advise looking into a mail-order pharmacy. Most insurance plans have them. They are more likely to have a larger supply (of everything) than local stores, and you also get several months’ supply (usually 2-3). That makes life much easier, too.

      Good luck,

  3. Malcolm Miller

    I’m a young adult with ADHD, recently kicked off my parent’s health insurance plan. I don’t take concerta, but vyvanse, which has no generic. According to, CVS has the best retail price for this drug. However, none of the pharmacies near my house carry vyvanse, and it takes weeks for them to order it. Drawing from the advice you gave on this blog, I recently asked a CVS pharmacist if they could start carrying vyvanse so I wouldn’t have to wait a week every time I drop off my Rx. They denied that they could ever honor these kinds of requests to carry controlled substances. Do you know if this is true, or did this pharmacist just deflect me?

    1. Hi Malcolm,

      I’m sorry you are encountering such obstacles. It’s shameful.

      There you are, summoning your organization and motivation to get the darn script, and CVS gives you this runaround.

      I cannot speak for CVS policy. If that is their policy, it stinks. (I’ve called the corporate number listed at and am getting the runaround, on hold, etc.)

      Here’s what I recommend. Go direct to the manufacturer, where you might well qualify for a discount.

      The number is below. Your physician will likely have to fill out a form. It might take a little more setup on the front end, but you could just save yourself a lot of headaches and lags over time.

      For information about Shire Cares benefits and eligibility, please call
      1-888-CARES-55 (1‐888‐227-3755). Shire Counselors are available from Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time, except holidays.

    2. P.S. I finally reached someone in the corporate office at CVS. They said the stores are limited by the DEA Diversion program in how much of the controlled substance they can have in the store at any one time.

      I have a call into the DEA to confirm this.

      Again, if I were you, I would try going directly to Shire.

      good luck!

  4. Joan of Arcadia

    Hi Gina!
    First off, I’m not surprised that Katherine is having a problem with Express Scripts (the one who took over Medco). For years, my husband’s company had them as their pharmacy plan and it just got worse and worse regarding the generic vs. brand vs. preferred generics vs. …. Well, you get the picture.
    And, don’t even get me started on their mail order issues ….. That was yet another huge issue.
    Anyways, I second your advice to Katherine to lodge a complaint with her HR/Benefits folks. And, to encourage anyone else she knows at her company that is having problems with their scripts to do the same. My understanding is that is what finally got my husband’s company to switch pharmacy administrators.
    Having worked for a healthcare insurance administrator myself, I know this to be the case. Usually, companies will put up with a plan administrator until their employees start complaining too much and then it is not worth the effort — or the savings for that matter, because the employees start appealing the administrator’s decisions and costing the company money, and, at that point, the company will usually switch.

  5. In case it might help to avoid even further confusion…

    It seems that Watson has now taken the name Actavis, after having acquired a Swiss company by that name.

    My bottle from CVS identifies Actavis Pharma as the manufacturer, which worried me until I saw the Alza inscription on the pills. That’s why I looked into the Actavis name.

    BTW: I did have to specially request the Watson/Actavis generic. Fortunately, my psychiatrist had written “generic must be OROS release” on the scrip. I also went prepared with a printout of Gina’s post with the explanations and pictures. THANK YOU SO MUCH, because the two pharmacists on duty seemed totally unaware of the issue.

    I was more fortunate than Katherine in that I was charged the co-pay for generics.

    1. Hey John,

      Good for you! And THANK YOU for contributing that fact.

      I’ll include it in my round-up soon.


    2. BTW: I did have to specially request the Watson/Actavis generic. Fortunately, my psychiatrist had written “generic must be OROS release” on the scrip. I also went prepared with a printout of Gina’s post with the explanations and pictures. THANK YOU SO MUCH, because the two pharmacists on duty seemed totally unaware of the issue.
      Where can I find “Gina’s post with the explanations and pictures” as mentioned in this post from “John Stone” on October 7?
      I was given generic yesterday 27mg from Kremers so wondering if it is the right one.

  6. Katherine McNeil

    I will try to find out who is the health insurance liaison for the pharmacy is but right on the Scripts page it states that they changed coverage for quite a few drugs which includes Concerta. I just sent them a nice note that said maybe a class action suit is needed for all the people whose quality of life have been impacted by their change when Concerta by Watson is a generic and they are the ones that are reclassifying it as Brand. We will see what they say to my little message.

    1. It might be that filing a complaint with your HR department will have more effect, if you feel okay going that route.

      Your employer has choices.


  7. Katherine McNeil

    If you use Scripts mail-order pharmacy, as I do, they recently merged…can you say, took over Medco mail-order pharmacy that I had been mail ordering my Concerta just fine and dandy for over 15 years. Now due to the merger Scripts have decided that Watson GENERIC is considered BRAND!!!!! I called and asked them why they now consider Watson GENERIC BRAND????? They could not give me an answer except to say they could substitute any generic they wanted. However, I could still get Watson Concerta but I would have to pay $290 for a 90 day supply. I still don’t get it. How they can reclassify Watson Concerta as Brand when it is a generic.

    1. Hi Katherine,

      This might be more of an issue with your health insurance. Medco, PrimeMail, etc. are all service providers for the health insurance companies, which set the guidelines for what they’re willing to pay for, etc.

      So, you could call your health insurance liaison for pharmacy and ask about this.

      At any rate, pharmacies make more money selling the generics. And probably make more money from the Mallinckrodt than the authorized-generic (Watson).


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