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    Double check what your pharmacy supplies you with

    A cautionary tale for anyone on meds experiencing a return of symptoms despite taking their prescription as directed. From KOB TV station in New Mexico, this was all perfectly legal apparently.


    Woman loses hair after pharmacy switches pills to generic brand
    11/12/2008 05:17:53 PM

    Some pharmacies are in hot water for switching meds on their customers. And it’s happening right here in New Mexico.

    For years Pauline Scanland of Santa Fe has relied on a small pill she takes daily to feel normal. Without her daily dose, life wouldn't be good because of an under-active thyroid problem.

    “In my case, it's joint pain, tiredness, (a) lethargic feeling," Scanland said about the symptoms she feels when she doesn’t take her pill.

    Scanland says several days after a routine refill at a Santa Fe Walgreen's this past summer, something went wrong, even though she didn't stop taking her pills.

    "A lot of my symptoms came back, so I started feeling tired. My hair started falling out. (I had) a lot of joint pains in my fingers and my feet (and I was) very sensitive to cold," Scanland said.

    Scanland says a prescription switch to a cheaper form of her medication by her pharmacist caused the chaos in her body.

    “I looked on the bottle and it said it was the generic brand of Levoxil," Scanland said.

    Her doctor agreed and told her that she got the symptoms because her body wasn’t used to the generic brand.

    "I felt worse on the generic, so when I went back to the doctor, I said they automatically switched me to this and I feel better on the Levoxil. He says ‘Absolutely, you're gonna feel better, you've been taking the Levoxil for a long period. And so your body isn't used to the generic brand,'" Scanland said.

    It sound's unbelievable that a reputable chain would do such a thing. But according to the federal government, Walgreen's recently committed fraud for switching to cheaper, but similar drugs on their customers, and then charging Medicaid for the expensive type.

    In fact, New Mexico is one of 42 states that received part of a $35 million settlement this summer after the federal government sued Walgreen's for that reason.

    In a written statement sent to Eyewitness News 4, Walgreen's says it denies any wrongdoing and settled to avoid costly litigation.

    One doctor who has witnessed the effects of a prescription switch on his patients is Dr. Daniel Friedman, a cardiologist at Presbyterian's Heart Center.

    "If they have not been told there's been such a change, they may not even understand why suddenly they go home and they don't feel well, their blood pressure is not as good or there is some other problem." Dr. Friedman said.

    Doctor Friedman says patients should always double check their pill bottles to make sure what you get is what the doctor ordered.

    And he says if a switch is made, you should ask your pharmacist why.

    "There have been times where, theoretically, a pharmacy or physician or a provider has some financial incentive, him or herself to make the change. It could be for some reason that a generic ends up being more profitable for a pharmacy." Dr. Friedman said.

    As for Scanland, she says she was given a $10 gift certificate to Walgreen’s after she complained.

    "Ten dollars for my aggravation, on two separate times, specifically asking them to give me the brand name and going through the aggravation, and I think the heartache to receive a $10 is more of a slap in the face," Scanland said.

    Switching from brand name to generics without telling the patient is actually legal in New Mexico and in other states. In fact, some benefit plans require pharmacies to dispense generics when available because they are cheaper than brand name drugs.

    Doctor Friedman says patients can ask their doctor to specifically write “do not sub” on their prescription if they want to make sure the prescriptions don’t get switched.

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    Re: Double check what your pharmacy supplies you with

    So silly all in the name of the all mighty dollar / sterling depending on where you are at. The thing is unless you have a pill book how are you going to know what you have been given?

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    Re: Double check what your pharmacy supplies you with

    I'm nor sure where you're located, Jones but if you're in the US you can use the Pill Identifier Wizard at drugs.com. I should stress this is for US issued medication only - please don't count on it if you live elsewhere in the world as being accurate. I'll try track down alternatives to this that are for other countries.

    I suppose the easiest way to find out is just ask the dispensing pharmacist if it's a generic or not or do what she did. Apparently it's right there on the label.

    “I looked on the bottle and it said it was the generic brand of Levoxil," Scanland said.
    Hope that helps!

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    Re: Double check what your pharmacy supplies you with

    This is really scary.. I did not know that changing to generic brands can cause some ill-effects. It's good that i ran into this so I could also inform my family and friends regarding the deadly effects of changing to generics as opposed to what the doctors prescribed. Pharmacists shouldn't be allowed to automatically change the medicines to generic without consent of patient and/or doctor.

 

 

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