Ask your doctor for safe, affordable generic drugs

Posted July 18, 2011, at 4:34 p.m.

Given that they are safe, effective and cheaper than brand-name drugs, people may want to use generics and make sure their doctor and pharmacist provide the option. Here are a few suggestions:

• Ask your doctor whether a drug he’s prescribing exists in a generic form and what the price difference is. Don’t wait until you reach the pharmacy and experience sticker shock.

• If your drug does not have a generic equivalent, ask your doctor if you can take another medication in the same class that does have a generic form.

• Note that a pharmacist may give you a generic drug instead of a brand-name, unless your prescription says “no substitutions” or “dispense as written.”

• Search the Food and Drug Administration’s Orange Book, a list of all approved generic drugs at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/ob/default.cfm.

• If you switch drugs — generic to brand-name or brand-name to generic — and suspect that doing so has caused negative side effects, you can report them to the FDA’s MedWatch program at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/medwatch-online.htm.

• Whether you are taking brand-name medications or generics, always take the drugs as prescribed.

• Check out the Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs report and database at www.consumerreports.org/health/best-buy-drugs/best-buy-drugs/generic-and-brand-drugs/index.htm.

Ranit Mishori is a family physician and faculty member in the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

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