Warning: Generics and “Brand Names” are NOT (always) the same…

Yes, there are differences between brand name migraine drugs and generic migraine drugs.  And those differences might make all the difference.

We talked about this back in 2009.  Dr. Alexander Mauskop from the New York Headache Center had written about a study that had been done on Topamax and its generic counterparts.

Last week he wrote a little more about his patients’ experiences with brand name and generic medications.

This is not necessarily about brand name manufacturers wanting to make you pay for their products (although I’m sure they do want that – can you blame them?).  The fact of the matter is, due to differing manufacturing processes, differing ingredients, and differing policies from country to country, brand name meds can be slightly different from the generics.  And slightly may be all that is needed between “it works” and “it doesn’t work”.

Dr. Mauskop shares some wise advice in his post, which you can read here:

I have also seen this with sumatriptan – my patients tell me that some generics do not work very well or at all.  Out of about 10 generics of sumatriptan, I would guess that two are of poor quality.  Once you find a generic that works for you, try to stick with the same generic manufacturer.  The name of the manufacturer is printed on the bottle the pharmacy gives you.  If one pharmacy does not have your generic, try another one.

He goes on to share a note from a patient dealing with pharmacies and changing availability of medications.

Of course, this involves pharmacies, drug companies, and insurance companies (oh, patients too!).  One change anywhere along the line, and something that worked well for you can disappear.

If you run into trouble, share these posts with those you’re talking to, so they’re aware of the issue.  Again, many times it may make no difference, but sometimes it will.

The most frustrating part of this story is that there are surely patients out there who have tried a triptan, and have given up on it, even though the very same triptan of a different brand might work.

So it may be worth your while to not only try different triptans (yes, one may work well when another doesn’t work at all), but try different brands of the the same triptan.  And of course this goes for other medications too, like Topamax (topiramate) and whatever you may be trying.

Pharmacies and insurance companies need to understand that this isn’t just hype – in some cases the difference is very important.  How can you in the industry better serve your patients?

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3 comments… add one
  • MigraineMe Apr 5, 2013

    I completely agree – migraine meds, particularly the brand, do make a difference! And, you really have to spend a lot of time working with a lot of different medications to find the one that works best for you because different medications and different brands work for different people!

  • LindaP Apr 8, 2013

    I used Imitrex for several years with no issues. With my first dose of generic sumatriptan I experienced chest pain and pressure which lasted for about a week. Cardiologist told me that I should avoid all drugs in the triptan class, so they are no longer an option for me. Probably was a blessing in disguise. I now take ibuprofen and meclizine at the first sign of migraine and do quite well with that approach. I repeat the ibuprofen after 4 hours if needed.

  • Kala Apr 9, 2013

    FYI – thanks for the article. My pharmacy just informed me within the month that a generic for Maxalt is available. I am skeptical.. because Maxalt has been a miracle drug for me. They filled the generic.. Rizatriptan. http://www.drugs.com/availability/generic-maxalt.html. I have only used twice, once worked, other did not so the jury is still out. Great reminder and advice.

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