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  1. #1
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    A dose of reality about generic drugs

    A dose of reality about generic drugs
    Katherine Eban, TedMED
    March 2020



    About Katherine EbanKatherine Eban, an investigative journalist, is a Vanity Fair contributor and Andrew Carnegie fellow. Her articles on pharmaceutical counterfeiting, gun trafficking, and coercive interrogations by the CIA, have won international attention and numerous awards. Her first book, Dangerous Doses: a True Story of Cops, Counterfeiters and the Contamination of America's Drug Supply, was named one of the Best Books of 2005 by Kirkus Reviews and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. She lectures frequently on the topic of pharmaceutical integrity.


    Eban's second book, Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom (Ecco/HarperCollins, May 2019) is a New York Times bestseller and a New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2019. Based on a decade of reporting, the book reveals endemic fraud and dire conditions in the overseas manufacturing plants where the majority of our low-cost generic medicine is made.

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    Re: A dose of reality about generic drugs

    I've taken numerous generic drugs over the years without issue although I've heard numerous stories about how generics didn't work for others.

    One notable instance was the drug Luvox, used to treat OCD among other things. In that case, a Canadian study showed quite conclusively that the generic fluvoxamine simply was not effective in treating OCD. Not just "not as good" but not effective.

    More recently, I had my own brand name vs generic experience. I take a medication called Olestyr to help my digestive system since surgery for colon cancer in 2014 and it has always worked very well.

    Last November (2019), my pharmacy was unable to obtain the brand name and switched me to the generic cholestyramine resin. That didn't work for me at all. It wasn't just that it wasn't as effective: it wasn't effective at all. I eventually gave up on it and had to double up on Lomotil (I try to minimize my use of this because it contains small quantities of narcotics/opioids - obviously not ideal but when I need it it works and works well) until supplies of Olestyr again became available sometime in February.

    I had the pharmacist put a flag on my account to ensure that I only get the brand name going forward.

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