What’s in a name?

Carolyn Voisey by Carolyn Voisey Additional Needs

Carolyn Voisey

Carolyn Voisey

Mum to one incredible little dude, I work full time in higher education and have my own small business as a jewellery designer/creator. I love noth...

What’s in a name?

Having a medically complex kiddo generally means that you need to stock the equivalent of a small pharmacy in your kitchen. One of the delightful quirks of anti-convulsants is that different patients respond to different brands; the active ingredient may be exactly the same, but there will be some difference in the formulation that means that they HAVE to have a specific brand of that medication.

In general, this is fine. But sometimes, it can cause headaches. Literally. The Dude is no exception. Of the medications he takes, there are two which absolutely must be specifics brands. As this is specified on his medical notes, the pharmacy are able to order the correct brands despite the significant difference in cost this incurs. This has been the happy situation for YEARS.

And then out of the blue, we learnt that one of the brands was changing its name. To a ‘branded generic’. Oh dear.

In case you are blissfully unaware of generics vs branded (oh how I envy you), allow me to briefly explain. The ‘generic’ drug is the active drug without any bells and whistles. A good example is Nurofen compared to ibuprofen. They are both the same active drug, but the branded Nurofen is usually more expensive than standard generic ibuprofen tablets. The same goes for other medications, such as anti-convulsants. In general, the generic versions are (a lot) cheaper, and so prescribers will usually put down a generic version instead of the brand unless there is a good reason why the branded version is essential.

Despite the name change, as the formulation hasn’t changed, the Dude still has to have this particular drug. But now it doesn’t have a specific brand name, which makes ensuring that correct one is ordered a whole lot more complicated. It would not be an understatement to say that my words on hearing about this situation were not repeatable!

There are times when I wonder if the Powers That Be genuinely do these things purely to push already stressed parents to the brink of sanity… safe to say, the Dude’s GP shares my thoughts. As things stand, all we can do is order the generic version of the drug and have the prescriber ensure that they write on the prescription that it has to be the generic made by the specified manufacturer. We can only guess at the manufacturers’ reasons for this change, but we do know that it will cause considerable issues for us and the prescribers for many months to come.


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