Saturday, October 27, 2012

Brand Name vs Generic -- Lessons Learned


The day started off normal enough. Bear was wild, Stitch was into everything, and I was gritting my teeth as I sorted through our bottles of medicine so I could give Bear his meds.

Then I stopped dead.

"Shit!" I muttered under my breath. I don't normally swear in my blog and I definitely don't normally swear in front of my kids, but realizing that you've forgotten to refill your child's ADHD meds is one of those times that brings out the worst in you. And for the record, no one heard me over Bear. No one can hear anything over Bear in the morning. Hence the profanity.

OK, no problem, I thought to myself. Bear and I are on the exact same dosage of the exact same medication, and I wasn't out of mine. Surely I could spare one in order for my boy to be able to get through his day. Now, let me be clear -- I don't go around giving people my meds. And I'm not one of those parents who says "Oh, we're out of children's Advil so I'll just give him a regular one...should be the same, right?" Again...we are on the EXACT same dosage of the EXACT same medication. The only difference is that his doctor specified no substitutions and mine didn't, so he's on the brand name drug and I'm on the generic drug. Theoretically, these drugs are identical and fully interchangeable.

Did you catch the key word in that sentence? Theoretically…

Well, they might be theoretically identical, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a huge difference between the two. My understanding in researching it is that while the active drug is identical, the time release mechanism is different, and that’s where the problems lie. (Note: From what I’ve read, this is the situation in Canada. My understanding is that both the active drug and the time release mechanism are identical in the US.)

What followed was one of the worst days that Bear has had in months…and months…and months. Here are a few highlights: punched someone in the stomach at school, spontaneous tears on and off all day for no reason (yes, there was a reason, but you know what I mean), total meltdown because there was no milk for his chocolate milk, aggression and defiance like I haven’t seen in ages. The chocolate milk was such an issue that despite the fact that The ODD Dad and I were both home, I had to call my dad and ask him to go buy us some milk. Bear was so upset over there not being any milk that he was violent, but he was violent enough that neither of us could leave to go get the milk – and no amount of explaining this was sinking in. By the end of the night I was fighting tears and emotionally exhausted, which is something that hasn’t happened in a long time.

So, what did we learn from this experience? Well, first off, I’ll be asking my doctor to switch me to the brand name drug, which was a valuable lesson. The unwelcome lesson was that Bear’s meds work so well that we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security about how well he’s doing. I sometimes feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders and as if it’s going to be relatively smooth sailing from here on in. Then a day like this comes along, and I realize just how severe our poor little guy’s problems still are. Right now, rather than feeling good about how well his meds work (and yes, I’m very grateful for them), I feel as if I’m waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop – the day his meds stop working.

Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

 

7 comments:

  1. Oh I am so sorry to hear that. But I do think this is true. I gave my Dad some pain medication that I was prescribed in the US after he fell off of a ladder. He took it before but the medication I gave him reacted badly with him.
    Lesson learned.

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    1. Isn't that scary? You'd think it would be the same thing, but I guess not. We're so naive when it comes to things like that.

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  2. Been.There. Our boy was doing so well on his meds that we thought we were golden. Then camp. Then vacation. Then getting ready to move and a new school. Turns out the meds can only do so much and life gets a little too big for the meds sometimes. Reminded us that there are still "issues" and back-up plans are needed!

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    1. I know that feeling completely! We've discovered that new experiences in the evening can totally throw him for a loop. The meds just can't keep up with his little system going into overdrive. The good news is that we do have these meds that work so well. You hear horror stories about the kids for whom meds don't work, and my heart breaks for them.

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  3. Ya we've been out for a week, waiting for the pharmacy refill. I'm SO GREATFUL (and keeping telling her that) that he has an AWESOME teacher that GETS HIM. She said that her 23 year old son could've been his Twin. Her patience abounds!! (Even if she would also appreciate it if they could hurry up and get his script in.). It's true that they just take the edge up. Some behaviors (like bearing his teeth and hissing at us when he's upset) will never go away. Or the lack of a sarcasm filter... :(

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    1. Ah, the sarcasm filter. Bear is just learning to use sarcasm effectively, but I suspect we have a lot of it in our future. I'm stunned that your pharmacy wasn't able to get your son's meds somewhere else. Could they not have approached another pharmacy to fill it? Thank goodness for awesome teachers. They rock!

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