To save money, many people with ADHD take generic medications. Is this a good idea? Maybe not.
Their physicians—and pharmacists—assure them that these generics are “exactly the same” as brand. Only cheaper. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Dangerously so, in some cases.
The more precise term is “bioequivalence” to the brand-name version.
The ADHD Roller Coaster covered this topic a few months ago: (Consumer Reports on Autos? Yes. On ADHD Medications? No!)
Ignore Consumer Reports On Rx
A Consumer Reports press release prompted me to write that blog post. Shockingly, it actually warned consumers away from brand-name medications for ADHD.
Their reasoning? Brand-name medications are too costly and unnecessary. But more importantly: Your child can get “hooked” on these brand medications? (But not the generics of them? Can you believe how ridiculous that is?)
That blog post countered the nonsense. I detailed the potential risks of using generic medications for treating ADHD.
With other readers, I left comments at the Consumer Reports blog post (“Parents: Don’t rush Children to Adderall, Concerta, Strattera“). Unfortunately, as is increasingly the case, all readers comments have since been deleted. (I have since learned to take screen shots!)
“A Gnawing Concern”
Today, The New York Times article (“Not All Drugs Are the Same After All”) backs up the points I made in that post on generic medications for ADHD. Some snippets:
- “There is a gnawing concern among some doctors and researchers that certain prescription generic drugs may not work as well as their brand-name counterpart.”
- “Some specialists, particularly cardiologists and neurologists, are concerned about generic formulations of drugs in which a slight variation could have a serious effect on a patient’s health.”
- “After hundreds of consumers posted messages about problems with the generic drug Budeprion XL 300 on the People’s Pharmacy Web site, Mr. [Joe] Graedon worked with an independent laboratory, ConsumerLab.com, to test the drug, which in other generic versions is typically known as bupropion. The lab found that Budeprion XL 300 released the active drug at a different rate than the brand name Wellbutrin XL 300. Mr. Graedon and the lab conjecture that the different dissolution rates might be to blame for the reported side effects and lower effectiveness of Budeprion.”
Kudos to Joe Graedon of The People’s Pharmacy for listening to his readers (despite his own longstanding support of generics) and probing the issue!
Note: This incident with Wellbutrin provided the foundation for my launching a MedWatch complaint with the FDA, about the inferior Concerta generics. We won! (Victory! Concerta Generics downgraded.)
The battle is still waging, with one manufacturer unwilling to accept the downgrade. Some consumers are still being forced to accept them as generics, by pharmacies that aren’t playing by the rules. You can read the history here: Consumer Q&A On Generic Concerta.
October 2019: With a venture capitalist named by the Trump administration as FDA chief, dozens of generics were pushed through during his short tenure. Scott Gottlieb, MD, scorned the FDA scientists’ concerns about FDA guidelines being exploited by generic makers, especially when it came to sophisticated delivery systems (e.g. Concerta, with its laser-drilled osmotic pump, Alza’s OROS).
You’ll learn about the current status of Concerta generics (and the authorized generic) here: Authorized Concerta Update, 6/19.
I welcome your comments on generic medications and ADHD. Please scroll down — no registration or codes required!