Generic Medications Are Not “Knock Offs”

A couple of weeks ago, I posted this list of generic meds I compiled in a public place. One of the very first comments I received was to the tune of “You shouldn’t be recommending drugs, let alone knock off drugs to people. You’re not a doctor.”

1. They are correct. I am not a doctor. And you will note that I have never claimed to be, nor will ever claim to be. Because I am not. I am an eloquent mental patient. Nothing more.

2. Did I recommend any drugs? No. I compiled a list of $4 generic psych medications out of public information freely available from your local Big Box retailer. I said “if affordability is an issue, you can discuss these with your doctor to see if any is a good fit for you”. That is not recommending a treatment. That is recommending that YOU TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT YOUR TREATMENT.

In my purely unprofessional opinion and what I’ve personally witnessed, it may cause MORE damage to have someone go on a psych med for a few months and then need to come off of it because they cannot afford it. Bipolar Disorder is for life. You need to plan for long-term management. Can you afford $100 a month for prescriptions? Most people I know cannot. Therefore, $4 generic equivalents are a better alternative.

3. Generic medications are NOT knock offs. People wrongly assume that the medication industry is driven by the standard supply and demand model, like much of retail. It is not. A company patents a formula, researches it, and is allowed to attempt to recoup costs of development and profit from it in the time remaining on the patent – which is 20 years from the establishment thereof. They essentially set their own price point.

Medications that fall OUTSIDE of that patent period can be produced by any other company. Many times, they are produced by the original company and put out as “generic equivalents”. They are the same chemically. The only difference is that they are now outside of this patent period, so the company does not have free reign to put whatever price point they want on the drug. This is why new medications cost so much.

4. Doctors are not pharmacists. Doctors are not the financial wing of whatever entity they work through. They do not price shop for you. Their job is to treat whatever problem you are bringing to the table. YOU need to tell your doctor if price matters or you do not have insurance that covers prescriptions.

I take two generic meds – lithium carbonate and citalopram. I pay $8 a month for both of my prescriptions. The lithium works great; but I’ve always had a hard time with antidepressants. Is that the fault of the citalopram? No. Chemically, it is Celexa.

So long as I’m not ordering my psych meds from a sketchy, internet pharmacy based out of El Salvador; there is not going to be a difference between putting name brand Celexa in my body instead of citalopram. The only difference is the bureaucracy surrounding it.

This is not new or “secret” information. It is all publicly available if you look into how medications are developed.

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