Seventy-eight percent of people would accept a generic version of their brand name medication if it were offered to them by their doctor or pharmacist, yet many say they do not have information about what generic medicines are and when they might be used, according to the Irish Medicines Board.

Generics have the same active ingredient as their brand name equivalents but generally are less expensive, making them a more attractive choice for both consumers and health insurance providers. However, generic drugs may not be as safe as the brand name medicines they mimic. Generics often have different inactive ingredients, such as dyes, fillers and additives, which can cause serious problems in some who take the drugs.

Take Keppra, for example. Keppra is the brand name of a drug commonly used to treat patients who suffer from seizures, such as epileptics and patients who have had a traumatic brain injury. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the marketing of various generic version of Keppra. As patients who previously had their disorder controlled by Keppra switched to a generic equivalent they began experiencing increased re-occurrence of seizures, headaches and other problems. Some reports of injuries and at least one death were reported, including a patient who suffered a seizure and died after switching from the brand name Keppra to a generic version of the drug.

While the survey shows most people would be willing to take generics, it also showed that the most common question participants have about generic medicines relate to their safety, quality and effectiveness.

In spite the concerns raised, the Irish government says it plans to introduce legislation to reduce the price of generic medicines and allow a generic to be substituted for a brand name drug by a pharmacist.

Source: RTE News

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