Generic drugs: are they really ‘exactly’ the same as brand name drugs?

Joe Graedon, who has been writing about pharmaceuticals for three decades and runs a consumer advocacy website, The People’s Pharmacy , was 100% behind generic drugs for many years. “We were the country’s leading generic enthusiasts,” he told the New York Times in November.  But over the last eight or nine years, Graedon began hearing about “misadventures” from people who read his syndicated newspaper column, also called The People’s Pharmacy.

The stories were typically from patients who were switched from a brand name drug to a generic one, and then had side effects or found that their symptoms returned — or even became worse than before they were medicated.

Most recently, Joe Graedon has been hearing complaints on his website about generic forms of the anti-depressant Wellbutrin XL 300mg (known as Budeprion XL 300 in one generic form*), the heart medicine Toprol XL (metoprolol succinate) and the anti-seizure medicine Keppra (levetiracetam). His opinion?

“Consumers are told generics are identical to brand name drugs, but that is clearly not always the case.” Continue reading