Most of us are familiar with generic medications but are unsure if it is appropriate to switch from our branded medications to the generic substitution. Generic medications can certainly provide a cost savings, so why would the physician recommend continuing with a branded drug? Are there differences of which I should be aware? Are there differences between topical medications such as eye drops and medications you take by mouth?
The answer is yes. To answer these questions, let’s start with the definition of a generic medication. Simply stated, generics are considered to be identical in dose, strength, route of administration, safety, efficacy, and intended use of the branded version. The major difference between the generics and the branded drugs deals with a medical term called bioequivalence, or in the case of eye drops, how well the drugs will get into the eye and work.
So why would the doctor prescribe a brand name drug for me instead of the generic? Not every brand-name drug has a generic drug. If in fact there is a generic drug as an option, there can be a challenge regarding how well the drug works when applied topically as the eye drop formulations are not typically tested for generic eye drops. And on rare occasion, there can be adverse side effects.
For the majority of patients, generic drugs will work very well, however, it is possible for a generic medication to work or feel differently. If your glaucoma is stable and you are using one medication, then switching to a generic could be reasonable. However, if your glaucoma is more advanced requiring multiple medications, it may not be a good choice to switch. We support any patient request to change to a generic medication unless we know that the generic does not work as well or creates a side effect.
When a patient wishes to change from a branded medication to a generic, we recommend a follow up visit with the doctor to determine if the new generic drug is working as well as expected. Be aware there may not be a direct generic substitution for the medication that you are taking, but there may be one close within the same class of medications.
We are here for you. Do not hesitate to ask us any questions regarding your current medications.