Generic Drugs

AlbertProfileHey Everybody. Albert here.

When I’m not dispensing medicine, I really enjoy dispensing advice to anyone who has questions about their health. I’d like to use this forum to help others by not necessarily revealing any questions asked of me, but focus more on the answers and how we get to the answers. Hopefully this monthly article will help anyone who has had similar questions or issues but not had the opportunity to ask.

So let’s get started. One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from behind the counter is:

Why do my pills look different than last time?

medicine-296966_1280Have you ever had the experience where you’ve been to your pharmacy, picked up a medication that you’ve been taking for years and all of a sudden the tablet looks different, but the label on the bottle still says the medicine is the same? Then, when you think about it… over the past three refills the tablets have either changed shape or color each time!  What is going on? Is this a mistake? And why is this all happening?

It’s always good to pay attention to anything you put into your body, so I’m glad you asked. The answer to these questions is, in fact, that each time you’ve picked up your meds, you’re actually getting  the same medicine, but it’s simply a different manufacturer’s generic.

“Well, what does THAT mean,” you ask? Okay, first let’s cover the basics…

What is a Generic Drug?

Name brand drugs are typically more expensive than generic drugs. When a company produces a new drug, they want to earn their money back on all of the research and development costs they incurred while making the drug ready for the public. After a while though, their exclusive patent expires and other companies are permitted to produce the same drug for less money.

How do we know if one drug is actually a generic to another?

For a pharmaceutical drug to be classified as a generic to another drug, four things have to be true:

  1. It has to have the same active ingredient as the branded drug
  2. It has to have the same amount of the active drug as the branded drug has
  3. It has to have the same effect on the body as the branded drug
  4. And it has to have the same effect for the same amount of time as the branded drug

Today there are so many pharmaceutical manufacturers out there producing medications, that it can be hard to keep up with all of them. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been charged with this huge task. They publish what’s called “The Orange Book” that lists ALL of our pharmaceutical drugs, and tells us whether or not one drug is a generic for another drug. This book is what all pharmacies use to determine if a generic is right for your prescription.

Is a Generic really as effective as the Name Brand?

capsule-158706_1280As technology progresses, so do our ways of thinking about diseases and how to treat them. New discoveries are being made daily and it’s really exciting to think about what’s just around the corner. Newer drugs can act on certain cells and their receptors that we didn’t even know existed only a decade ago. With this advancement in technology there have also been advancements in manufacturing processes that allow more and more companies to produce alternatives to the higher priced brand name drugs. Those alternatives must always meet the four important requirements above, which ensures that they’ll be just as effective as the name brand.

However, while all of these generic drugs are required to work the same, they don’t have to look the same, which finally brings us to the big question:

So… Why do my pills look different than last time?

With so many alternatives and different generics out there, often one company’s generic drug is very different looking from another company’s. We get asked many questions to this effect:

“If this is a generic to the drug I picked up last month at your pharmacy, then why is it so much larger and also a different color? Shouldn’t they look the same or at the very least be the same size?”

Well, the answer to that question is that each drug manufacturer is free to make their own version of the drug, as long as that drug meets those four requirements:

  1. The same active ingredient
  2. The same amount of the active ingredient
  3. The same effect on the body
  4. The same amount of time with that effect on the body

pills-951505_1280What this means is that the pharmaceutical manufacturers can use any inactive ingredients they need to. This includes the fillers, dyes, coatings, and anything else that doesn’t affect the active ingredient, what it does, how it does it, or for how long.
We are constantly comparing prices between manufacturers, so regardless of the color, shape, or size, you can be sure that we have carefully chosen the right medication at the right price to fill your prescription.

I hope that clears up a little of the mystery behind generic drugs and how we determine whether one drug is a generic to another. If you ever have any questions about your medications or generic substitutions, NEVER hesitate to call your pharmacy! That’s what we’re here for, and we’ll be glad to help you.

Albert Pearson is a pharmacist and owner of City Drug in Brady, TX.

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A Stress-Less April

April is National Stress Awareness Month and we think that’s an important topic to discuss because stress management can be as essential to good health as managing medical conditions, ailments, and diseases. And because we care, here are a few tips that will hopefully assist you in managing any stress in your personal life, and in the lives of those you love and care for.

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City Stress vs Rural Stress

First off, we’re all fortunate to live in the small Texas towns and rural countryside in and around Brady, Mason, Menard, and Eden. Small towns and rural lifestyles are typically less stressful than large cities. We don’t have to cope with traffic congestion, huge crowds, and too many inconsiderate people. When you make your rounds shopping in our small towns, you’re greeted by merchants who know you and it’s virtually impossible to go grocery shopping without bumping into someone you know and enjoy. That in itself is a great way to lessen a stressful load.

Stress is Natural

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The gears keep turning

When running to the rescue in an emergency, or even getting out of the way of fire ants, that rush of adrenalin that helps you react quickly and decisively is a result of stress. The problem is when there isn’t an immediate danger and our bodies and minds are still working over time. Too much of this unwanted stress can wear us down if we don’t address it and the first step really is addressing it. Sometimes just admitting to yourself or others “I’m feeling stressed” is a relief. It can be an uncomfortable subject to talk about, but the reality is that everyone has some form of stress in their lives that they also manage.

After the death of a friend or loved one, stress can take its toll. That’s natural and sometimes it takes longer than expected to get over the strain of the loss. Getting back to a normal schedule and confiding in close friends and family are two steps towards managing the stress involved in those difficult times.

Worry and concern is also natural. You’re late to pick up your child. Your parent is late to pick you up. Fortunately, we now have good cellphone reception and most everyone has one, so that “call home” can help enormously, especially during any of our Texas thunderstorms or tornado warnings.

Being rushed is another natural state of stress. That one’s easy to combat. Add a few minutes to your schedule so you don’t get behind! If necessary, set your clock ahead and fool yourself.

Avoid Negative Situations

An amazing amount of stress can be credited to simply getting caught up with watching the news on television or on your personal communication devices. Tune in to more positive sources of information and entertainment. One of the most interesting non-official “studies” was done in the waiting room at the Veterans Administration Clinic in Brownwood when they ceased putting the overly-dramatic news station on the screens and changed instead to The Nature Channel. Nothing brings down the blood pressure like seeing furry critters romping in the wild.

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These arguing silhouettes are stressed

Some people you know, or perhaps have to work with, can be downright negative and grumpy. Try to either cheer them up (and thus, yourself) or if that doesn’t work, you can always seek out someone else for a more pleasant conversation. The safe topics that seem to work in any conversation are:

  • The Weather
  • Ailments
  • Children or Grandchildren

In these upcoming months of political controversy, isn’t it much better to ask how someone’s grand-babies are doing rather than how they’re going to vote? Political discussions can become heated, and unnecessarily stressful. Unless you and the person you’re “arguing” with actually enjoys the banter, it’s better to avoid political hot topics.

Stress Management Practices and Techniques

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Watch out for deer

There are many, extremely good and very helpful practices that have been proven effective for centuries in managing your stress. Bicycle riding, gentle jogging, walking the dog, signing up for Yoga or Tai Chi, then actually practicing them regularly can help tremendously.

The idea of Physical work, exercise, or playing hard–within your personal limits–is good for you. It gets the blood pumping. A little sweat never hurt anyone, as long as you stay properly hydrated. If you’re an older adult or someone with, for example, a heart condition, it’s best to avoid doing more than you’re capable of. And, for sure, you need to remember to “catch your breath” after overdoing anything.

IMG_5069A less rigorous hobby like gardening is also terrific way to manage your stress, and the enjoyment of being amongst blooming flowers can makes anyone content. If gardening isn’t for you though, there are plenty of other healthy hobbies to try. The local library is a good place to start exploring new interests.

Make time to relax

A hot bath, meditation, prayer and simply talking out a problem with someone who helps calm you down all can help relieve stress. The most important commonality to most practices is actually relaxation and deep breathing. Another good technique is laughter. Laughing, even when forced, has been proven to lower stress and help conquer depression. Take in a good big breath. Hold it. Then let it out with a great big, happy laugh. It works!

Stress balls are a simple and amazingly effective way to quickly relieve anxiety, worry, and even anger. Squeezing a stress ball relieves tension and gets you concentrating on something you can easily control. Come in to City Drug and pick up your very own free, little blue stress ball.

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Free City Drug Stress Ball

Our stress balls are easy to use:

Step 1: Squeeze
Step 2: Relax, then squeeze again
Step 3: Repeat sequence until it’s time to change hands and continue until either your stress is relieved… or your dog wants a turn.
Never underestimate the power of relaxation. We’re so fortunate here, in and around Brady, to have clean air and beautiful parks to relax in and weather that allows us to be out and about all year round. Springtime in Central Texas is the best season of all. Simply getting out and seeing the wildflowers can do wonders for your peace of mind.

Eat Right, Sleep Well, Be Happy

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Cats rarely seem stressed

Eating the right foods (re-read our March issue on nutrition) getting enough good, solid sleep, and focusing on the bright side of life can be the best stress management tools of all. We actually have sleep banks. If we deplete that bank, we simply don’t have the energy, enthusiasm and awareness needed to cope well with the daily demands of life. Some people need even more than the typical eight hours, so if you’re one of them, add to that bank when you have the opportunity. Nothing beats a good long nap in a hammock on a peaceful weekend afternoon in the springtime. Before the bugs get prolific.

Over the Counter Help?

bottle-148883_1280.pngWhen it comes to over the counter help aids, if you think you need something from our pharmacy to help you lose unwanted weight or aid in your digestion, or if you think you need something to help you sleep… or stay awake, consult our very knowledgeable pharmacists here at City Drug first. Some over-the-counter remedies might not mix well with your prescription medications and might actually do damage. If there’s a serious question, we’ll be glad to talk with your doctor directly. We know our area doctors well and they know that our pharmacists are respected members of your health care team.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a perfect “happy pill” that works for everyone.  It takes some work to muster happiness up for yourself. But we can tell you that happiness truly is the key to a good, healthy life. Smiles, laughter, and the warm hugs our area is noted for can do wonders for your overall sense of well-being.

Stop by and have a chat with us anytime. You’ll not only get good, helpful advice, but you’ll receive a big, earnest, sincere smile… and maybe a laugh or two, which is proven to make any day less stressful.

 

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Don’t forget to pick up your free City Drug stress ball before we run out!

 

We hope you enjoy the City Drug Monthly Health Tips. Leave us a comment on Facebook or stop by the pharmacy and share your thoughts. We always look forward to hearing from our neighbors!