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.