Generic substitution: An opportunity to educate consumers

August 15, 2010

In a recent survey by Medco Health Solutions Inc., only 66% of 1,092 patients with insurance surveyed "agreed that a generic drug is the same as the brand-name medication - many patients are still not comfortable using a generic and others still consider brand-name drugs to be superior."

Key Points

Last October, my 15-year-old son worried that his acne could no longer be managed with the over-the-counter products he'd been using for 2 years. His dermatologist agreed and suggested isotretinoin, which involved monthly blood testing and a patient registry agreement. I was surprised that the co-pay was only $15 - until I realized that my son was receiving not the branded version, Accutane, but the generic substitute, Amnesteem.

There is no doubt that generic substitution offers payers and consumers a chance to save substantially on prescription-drug spending. With the average price of a generic drug 70% less than its brand-name equivalent, generic manufacturers have made it possible to offer consumers safe, effective solutions with bioequivalent products.

However, in a recent survey by Medco Health Solutions Inc., only 66% of 1,092 patients with insurance surveyed "agreed that a generic drug is the same as the brand-name medication - many patients are still not comfortable using a generic and others still consider brand-name drugs to be superior."

Is the generic working?

At that point, Tim wouldn't leave the house without putting on ivory foundation. If he ran out of the makeup, I had to run to the drugstore for it or he wouldn't go to school. I heard from other parents whose children had taken isotretinoin that it cleared acne very quickly. I started to wonder whether the generic was really working.

It has been 7 months since my son began taking isotretinoin, and I am now confident that the generic equivalent of Accutane works (see the before and after photos above). In a few months, Tim will be finished with the systemic therapy, and one consumer, at least, will have been reassured of the efficacy of generic drugs.

JULIA TALSMA
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, DRUG TOPICS