We’re thrilled to see our Joe and Terry Graedon, of PeoplesPharmacy.com, in the New York Times (“Not All Drugs Are the Same After All”) telling a truth that the FDA hasn’t figured out: generics don’t always work the same as the brand name drug.
Joe and Terry exemplify the participatory medicine movement. He’s a pharmacologist, and she’s a PhD medical anthropologist, studying what people do in a given culture (in this case, ours). Our founder “Doc Tom” Ferguson lists them as his advisors in his White Paper’s acknowledgements.
Theirs is a story of conversion based on undeniable evidence gained by listening to patients:
“We were the country’s leading generic enthusiasts,” he told me recently. But over the last eight or nine years, Mr. 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 had side effects or found that their symptoms returned…
The Times article spells out the issue: to the FDA, a generic is the same if it has “the same active ingredient, strength and dosage form.” But the citizens on the People’s Pharmacy discussion forums report that’s not true for them – and new research the Graedons sponsored shows that another variable, the release rate, varies. The body might well respond differently if the drug arrives in the cells at a different rate, but the FDA doesn’t look at that. People’s Pharmacy convinced ConsumerLab.com to do that research.
E-patients who want to take responsibility for their own care need to wise up and speak up. In many ways the FDA’s processes prevent junk from entering stores, but it’s a mistake to expect perfection.
Listen to your body. If your insurance company switches you to a generic, pay attention to your response. Or even if it doesn’t! If your response to a medication changes, tell your medical advisors.