This last week, I had a ton of medication fluctuations… ok, maybe not a ton, but the inconsistencies were annoying. I tried to go over in my head if anything had changed… diet, exercise or my hairstyle? But because I am a smart cookie, I know that sometimes my Parkinson’s is just going to be a jerk for no logical reason. So I just dealt with it, until one morning when I reached into my Sinemet bottle to fish out that familiar yellow pill and to my surprised, the pill had shrunk! Or I had gotten bigger. Knowing that I’m not in wonderland and I didn’t just devour a piece of magical cake that has the words “eat me” on it, I knew something was up.
I dumped the contents of the bottle onto my desk to investigate. To my amazement, my pharmacy had filled my generic Sinemet prescription with pills from 2 different manufactures… Teva and Mylan. I guess they believed that since they are both the “same” medication, it was alright to mix them. This reminded me about a blog I wrote about my previous experience with generic medications. I use the analogy of name brand designer jeans to generic off-brand… you know, to make it easier to understand.
I have always loved “True Religion” jeans. The way they form to my body and accentuate all the right curves, while minimizing my fluffy parts…. yes, every girl has parts they would like to hide. These slacks are God’s gift to women. Now if you would like to attempt this level of hotness, you will have to fork over 200 clams or more if you choose to have your rump bedazzled with crystals…. what girl wouldn’t? But for many reasons, a new pair of “True Religion” jeans are always out of reach. So what is an alternative? If you shop around, you can find some pretty decent jeans for any body type. I can tell the difference with generic jeans and I don’t prefer them over my name brand, but some people may not want jeans with crystals that cost more than a paycheck, so they choose to have a less expensive alternative. But are they really the same quality? I guess it depends on what manufacturer makes the impostor jeans, what type of fabric was used, or what of style they are….my brain hurts.
To get to the bottom of this jean conundrum, I will use my personal experience I had this week while switching from my name brand Parkinson’s disease medication “Stalevo” to its generic form. I have never given much thought to the difference between the two forms of drugs and the fact that the generic are cheaper is always exciting, especially when you go to pick up your prescription from the pharmacy. But this week, this naive girl was taught a life lesson. Throughout the week, I had noticed my Parkinson’s symptoms had gotten significantly worse. My medications appeared to have forgotten to send a memo to my body about its upcoming vacation. I struggled all day with symptoms; people were even mentioning my slowness of movement and my expressionless face.
I tried to make it through the day by forcing my body to swing my arm when I walked, speak with an audible tone, and control my rigidity. But I was failing miserably attempting to look normal. On top of the emotional hell I was enduring, I was struggling with pain; a feeling that I couldn’t get comfortable whether sitting, standing, or lying down. I completed my day and walked slowly to my car, smiling at people passing by. As I got into my car and closed the door, tears began to stream down my face. I thought to myself, “how could I continue feeling this way everyday?”…..the reality hit, this is how bad it really could get.
After a couple of days struggling to maintain my sanity, I sat down with my Neurologist (who is also my boss….bonus!) and shared my challenges. After a few questions, he had come up with a reason I was feeling like dog poo. I had just recently switched from the name brand “Stalevo” medication to its generic form, to save money. He stated that he has heard from multiple patients that the generic form was not effective for controlling their Parkinson’s. My mind was blown! Or what is left of it.
When I did my own research, I came across this quote from CNN that was describing the FDA’s guidelines when determining the bioequivalency of a drug, “A generic’s maximum concentration of active ingredient in the blood must not fall more than 20% below or 25% above that of the brand name. This means a potential range of 45%, by that measure, among generics labeled as being the same.” This means that the medication that I felt somewhat stable on, has now been changed into a substance that which I have no idea how my body would react to, and this is all without my knowledge.
I know that there can be many benefits to using a generic medication. My frustration comes from not knowing the potential that these medications can have. It was almost as if I had bought an awesome pair of “True Religion” jeans from a friend, complete with hot pink crystals. When I wore them out for the first time, I noticed that they didn’t fit the same as my other jeans. Not only did they not embrace my curves, but they put a huge neon sign pointed right at my fluffy muffin top. Could it be possible that I had bought a fake pair of jeans? They looked the same, but something was off.
I paid less for the generic jeans as did I with the generic brand of medication, but it was obvious that they were not the same. The fake “True Religion” slacks, just like the generic medication were created by multiple different manufactures, which altered how the looked and felt on me. Now I am not saying that you should be afraid to try the generic medications, because just like jeans, they will all fit differently depending on our individual body types. I thought it was important to share this information to make people aware. Now if only we could get the FDA to oversee the production of Denim Jeans…