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Pharmacist: Brand has 'nothing to do' with quality of medication

Posted August 12, 2010

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— Some parents may have noticed a lot of familiar child's pain relievers are hard to find. Over the past six to eight months manufacturers of Tylenol and Motrin products have voluntarily pulled most of the medications from shelves due to quality-control issues.

There are still options available that are cheaper than and just as good as the brand names.

Generic store brands are plentiful, but Compounding Pharmacist Rikesh Patel with Brier Creek Pharmacy says some people think cheaper price means cheaper quality.

pain reliever Pharmacists: You can trust generic drugs

"I guess you're paying for the brand and the name most of the time. That has nothing to do with the quality, just because it's an inexpensive medication,” Patel said.

Some child's Motrin and Tylenol products are still available because they were made at different facilities than other recalled products. Some of those brand name products, even with the higher price, had concentration issues.

“Some medications were stronger than what was recorded on the label. Some were actually weaker,” Patel said.

Even if generic brands were in short supply, Patel is a compounding pharmacist who's specially trained to formulate medications for customers, even pediatric pain relievers.

“We can make them taste better or dye-free in a lot of cases. A lot of kids are allergic to certain dyes and things like that,” Patel said.

When parents shop for over-the-counter medications, the decision has become more complicated. There have been several dosage changes over the past year or two because many parents gave medications to their infant that weren't intended for them, so seek out your pharmacist.

“And I'd encourage parents not to just buy off the shelf. I'd encourage them to come out and at least have a conversation with the pharmacist any time their child is sick,” Patel said.

Parents should be careful using multi-symptom pain relievers, which often contain medications for symptoms their child may not have. Your pharmacist can recommend the best combination of medications for you or your child.

13 Comments

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  • bcarrol Aug 17, 2010

    Quality issues are investigated by the FDA and all companies must comply with those regulations. The FDA regularly inspects facilities to insure that companies are in compliance and those who are not are dealt with swiftly and in some cases harshly. Some consequences involve shutting down facilities until they return to compliance.

  • bcarrol Aug 17, 2010

    Generic products must contain the exact label claim as the "brand" product. They must also contain the same inactive ingredients, but most companies use reverse engineering to determine the amounts since the "brand" doesn't willingly disclose this information. The generic product must pass bioequivalence testing before it is approved by the FDA. This means that the generic performs, within reasonable tolerance limits, just like the “brand” name product.
    We know from personal experience that sometimes the brand works or makes us feel differently than when we take a generic product. Mostly, I think this based on the individual since large percentages are not affected differently.
    You should never take a product other than what is prescribed. I would never “take an extra pill” unless a physician prescribes it.
    A lot of “brand” manufacturers are producing “generic” versions of their product to compete against the generic companies to maintain market share after patents

  • bcarrol Aug 17, 2010

    As someone who has worked for big pharma and generic pharmaceutical companies in R&D, some posters on here are posting misconceptions.

    All inert and active raw materials, no matter where they are manufactured, are tested before they are put into a final product. While I wouldn't want to take anything manufactured in China or India, U.S. products are pretty safe if you consider the sheer number of units produced. The unscrupulous products manufactured in foreign countries are distributed in those countries and don't make it into the U.S. supply. Any facility that produced any raw material or final product, domestic or foreign, must be inspected by the FDA to insure that the facility is compliant with current good manufacturing practices (cGMP).

  • See Chart Aug 17, 2010

    Most ingredients of our important drugs are made in China
    The New York Times has been running a report on the iffy controls
    in Chinese pharma factories.
    I would urge people to read these reports as China does not usually let our FDA inspect these manufacturers.

  • Shadow213 Aug 16, 2010

    I thought that by law, generics must contain the same concentration of the active ingredient(s) of the name brand. The difference in price doesn't (or shouldn't) come from less active ingredient, but the fact that the generic brand does not have to make up all of the costs spent on researching the drug the way the name-brand did. Is this not true?

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Aug 16, 2010

    I'm fine with generics. Always use it when available. One person complained of the lesser coating leaving an aftertaste. If I'm taking some motrin for a bad headache, I couldn't care less about the aftertaste, as long as it corrects the headache. Some say the pill might have a lower efficacy(?), or active ingredient, if I stated that correctly. That's fine, just take an extra pill.

  • kimvian Aug 13, 2010

    i work in a pharmacy and let me say.... when protonix went generic, the generic was shipped to us in the generic bottle. when you open the bottle, the pill inside was the exact same pill as brand. they just put a generic label on it and sold it for 200 dollars less. same thing with lotrel, prevacid, and several other drugs.

  • davidkresge1 Aug 13, 2010

    I work in a hospital pharmacy and will tell you that there can be quality and/or micro ingredient issues. Most are fine, but it never hurts to check first.

  • Grandpeople Aug 13, 2010

    There is a difference. They are made off shore. You do not know where the ingredients are made or where they are stored. If you are trying to Regulate i.e. blood pressure, blood sugar etc., use Brand only. Big Pharms spend tons of money on development - the generics only have to take up the manufacturing process and there is a plus/minus factor that is much larger for them. That is WHY they are cheaper - the active ingredients are less.

  • Question Aug 13, 2010

    Notice that Target's "UP" generics brand is from India.

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