I know this isn’t true of all drugs, especially certain psychiatric drugs & antiepileptics. However, this study finding is a relief.
I did suspect as much since I started taking the generic form of Rapamune, once the generic was made available. I had less concern because I knew Pfizer had it’s own generic imprint, Greenstone, so I knew the medication was identical & equivalent.
The study, conducted by Cleveland Clinic, was done with 70 patients to compare generic tacrolimus to the brand name drug, Prograf. Prograf is manufactured by Astellas Pharma. However, generic tacrolimus is typically manufactured by Sandoz, which is a division of Novartis. So it’s the not the same company that manufactures both drugs (as is the case with sirolimus/rapamune).
This was only one of many concerns patients had when being made to switch, either by insurance or for other reasons. This debate had been taking place on & off since 2009, when the generic version first became available.
The concern obviously with switching was whether the same dose in the generic could maintain the same therapeutic level as the original branded medication.
This sometimes doesn’t always work & with anti-rejection medicines, a decrease in concentration could set off rejection. However, it appeared this was not the case & that they are bio-equivalent.
It looks like similar studies are underway now to test whether the generic, Mycophenolate Mofetil, manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals is bio-equivalent to the brand name drug Cellcept made by Genentech.
It looks like switches have taken place with this drug as well at around the same time as tacrolimus, but there was little reported in bio-equivalency study data to date (at least from what I could obtain in a public search).
Ultimately, if transplant patients can safely make the leap, the cost savings is significant.
Over time, the costs add up. Considering the multiple drug regimen most transplant patients are on for the rest of their life, every bit of savings helps. So if the switch to a generic can be tolerated with either one or both drugs, it might be easier on both an insurance carrier’s & the patient’s wallets in the end run.