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Generic drug problems
8 Replies
January - February 15

I was just cruising a favorite site, I suggest if you are taking any generic drug you go there and check it out.

On the left, click on the heading "Report It" and then scroll down to the area entitled "Report Generic Drug Problem." The one with over 1300 postings, many of them about antidepressants and other typical fibro drugs. Some of your problems with "fibro flare-ups" may be due to your crummy generic drugs!


January - February 15

PS to my comment. A lot of times pharmacies automatically substitute generics - and at refill time, they can switch you to a different company's generic; that means the drugs could be formulated differently. You could suddenly have a strange reaction.

Drug manufacturing is complicated: it involves making the right chemical formulation of the drug, engineering it properly, and putting it into a form that is dissolved in the correct area of the gut, and in the correct time frame. All this is proprietary information, and each company does it differently.

For example, sometimes a bad generic releases the entire amount of the drug very quickly, when it's supposed to be released slowly over time.

There have been serious problems with generics from India and China recently.


Noca - February 15

Mainly the only problem with generics is in long acting medications. For Health Canada's rule, they state that the medication's duration has to be within +- 10% of the brand name drug and the peak action of the drug has to be within +- 20% of the brand name drug. The rules by the FDA are similiar. Otherwise, ALL drugs MUST have the same active ingredient chemically identical to the brand name drug.


January - February 15

I know the FDA has "rules"- but they don't have time to test the generics flooding in from everywhere. Some are contaminated, and some are bad drugs. I had a rough time on generics. My pets did too.

This posting at - there are several, but the one with over 1300 reports of bad generic experiences - really got me thinking about some of the posts on here! They sound similar. Did you go there and read some of it?


Noca - February 16

By your logic, they wouldnt have time to test all the brand name drugs "flooding from everywhere" either. Many big pharma companies who produce the brand name of a drug ALSO produce and sell the generic formulation of a brand name drug. They just wouldn't have you know that though as their drug rep's bash generics cause generics bring in like sometimes [10% of what their brand name blockbuster drugs do. So big pharma companies effectively attack what they make!

The fact that 1300 people on that site complained about the generics means nothing. How many countless exponentially more people have complained about the brand name of the same drug? It's all about marketing. The brand names are on patent are big pharma's cash cow. It's not as if you've ever seen a drug commercial for generic medications have you?


January - February 17

Hi noca - here is a piece from an article in the LA Times, 2008 about Ranbaxy generic drugs:

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday put the Indian generic drug giant Ranbaxy on notice that it would block entry to the U.S. market of 25 generic prescription drugs widely used by American consumers. The FDA "warning letter" faulted Ranbaxy, the world's largest manufacturer of generic pharmaceuticals, for observing inadequate quality controls and manufacturing standards in the production of generic versions of drugs used to treat diabetes, high cholesterol, epilepsy and infections, among other conditions."

NOTE: One of the drugs Ranbaxy makes is Neurontin or gabapentin, a drug used to treat fibromyalgia..

is another piece about generics from India and China by the Graedons:

"Here we go again. First it was pet food from China contaminated with melamine. Then it was Chinese-made toothpaste containing diethylene glycol, an ingredient found in some antifreeze. Another scandal erupted earlier this year when patients developed severe allergic reactions to the blood thinner heparin. More than a dozen people died. The investigation that followed found that some Chinese suppliers apparently added a cheap, dangerous compound to the raw ingredient.
Now thousands of Chinese babies are sick because melamine, the same chemical that killed cats and dogs, was added to milk to disguise dilution. Other dairy products, including yogurt and ice cream, may also have been contaminated. All these incidents suggest that food and drug quality control is lax in China. Few Americans realize that raw ingredients for many of our medications are sourced from China.
Generic drug companies undersell brand name products in part because they buy their raw ingredients for less. How else could a discount drug chain offer a cholesterol-lowering drug like pravastatin at $10 to $12 for a three-month’s supply? The brand name Pravachol goes for over $300 for the same amount.
We do not know where discount drugstores buy their low cost medicines. One possible source is India. The FDA recently banned importation of 30 generic drugs (including pravastatin) from Ranbaxy Labs, India’s largest pharmaceutical firm. The agency cited lapses in manufacturing process and quality control. The U.S. Department of Justice is pursuing separate action alleging that Ranbaxy distributed adulterated and misbranded products.
Unfortunately it is impossible for pharmacists or patients to identify the source of their medication. For the last several years we have been hearing from readers and visitors to our [site] about problems with certain generic drugs. That is why we have become critical of FDA oversight.
We were recently taken to task by a Houston Chronicle reader who wrote, “The Graedons have been anti-generic drugs for years. They never miss an opportunity to denigrate generics. I wonder which companies’ stock they own.”
Just for the record, for 25 years we were strong advocates for generic drugs. Even when physicians and pharmacists questioned quality, we encouraged patients to insist on generics. We believed the FDA that generics were always identical to brand name drugs. We are no longer confident that is true for all generics. We own no stock in any pharmaceutical company, brand or generic.
We think the FDA needs to take a far more active role in monitoring foreign and domestic drug manufacturing. Currently, many companies are on the honor system: FDA checks paperwork and does little if any analysis of actual medications off pharmacy shelves to make sure they meet quality standards.
The events in China and India suggest that the honor system is no longer adequate. To keep Americans safe, our federal watchdogs need more resources and willingness to safeguard our drug supply."

for the 1300 postings listed under ONE thread on peoplespharmacy, I think 1300 complaints should be listened to. There are many more complaints on other forums. just wanted to post some information that may resonate with some of our friends who are not feeling well - if they use antidepressants, they can google for "problems with generic _______" and fill in the name of the their antidepressant, or other drug, which may have been switched from brand to generic without their knowledge. See the post below that is surrounded by double stars to get info on how to complain if you are having a problem.
is a quote from peoplespharmacy that illustrates a tiny piece of the problem they are looking into over there:

"Q. I have taken Wellbutrin XL for two years and it has taken care of my depression beautifully. In January my insurance company switched me to the generic called Budeprion XL. I didn’t think twice about it. I just assumed it was as good as Wellbutrin XL.

After a few months thinking I was losing my mind and that Wellbutrin just wasn't working anymore, it finally dawned on me that I was no longer taking WELLBUTRIN! (I honestly hadn’t even thought about the generic.)
I have been very depressed, crying and irritable with no energy or ambition. While I am not suicidal, it sure doesn’t sound like a bad plan most days. I will stop Budeprion XL immediately even though I will have to pay full price for Wellbutrin XL.

A. More than a dozen people have contacted us regarding experiences strikingly similar to yours. Some of them reported nausea or dizziness as side effects of Budeprion XL; all of them said their symptoms of depression had returned.
We have no scientific evidence that there is a difference between the brand name and the generic. Nevertheless, so many reports convince us that there should be an investigation.
have arranged with the FDA to analyze any generic pills that readers of The People’s Pharmacy suspect are not equivalent to their branded counterparts. Please describe your experience and send your generic pills with as much information as possible: Name of medication, name of generic drug maker, lot number and date dispensed. (Data may be available from the pharmacy.) Send the parcel to Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy; PO Box 52027; Durham, NC 27717-2027.
is a note from Consumer Reports Health Blog:

There have been many anecdotal reports of epilepsy patients who noted an increased numbers of seizures after switching to a generic drug from a branded drug (or even from one generic to another). That is not a new story. But anecdotes don’t prove cause and effect. However, this issue has been observed by neurologists for many years, despite the available scientific evidence that finds generic drugs have the same effect in the body as the brand-name drugs. But reports—from both patients and physicians—of problems occurring when switching supposedly identical drugs continue to crop up. Clinical trials could help resolve this issue, but as far as we are aware, no trials have been done or are in the works.

are comments from topix, headlined "TEVA announces generic Effexor XR":

Jul 20, 2010

Ronda wrote:
I just started taking the generic form of Effexor XR because my insurance requires the generic if available. Has anyone else had problems taking the generic form? I have been on it for 5 days and I am so sick. My bones ache, I have a terrible headache and I have been throwing up for 2 days….

Whoa! I was just wondering if there was something going on with me and I needed to go back to my doctor b/c I noticed my depressive sx worsening - more tired/sluggish, headache, more anhedonic and extremely irritable these last few days...then I realized that a little over a week ago - my pharmacist informed me of the switch to the generic version of Effexor XR. I thought I was just being a whiner when I was wondering if there was any real difference between the brand name and the generic form. I think there is a difference and I plan to contact my doctor to see if I can go back to the brand name and see if it makes a difference.
Temple, TX
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#7Jul 21, 2010

I started taking the generic form one and 1/2 weeks ago. I had to take 3 days of sick leave from work due to nausea/vomiting and SEVERE, unrelenting headache (and no, aspirin or tylenol has not helped the headache). I'm not sure is the med is not releasing correctly or what....but if any readers out there switch to the generic form and you come down with similar symptoms for over one week, you might need to speak with your physician and get back on the brand name.
South Gate, CA
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#8Jul 21, 2010

My daughter and I both have taken Effexor for years. We switched to the generic 5 days ago. I have been sick for three days with nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. My daughter has a severe headache and extreme nausea.

Monroeville, PA
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#9Jul 26, 2010

I switched to the generic Effexor a week ago and the depression is coming back stronger than ever.
Monroeville, PA
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#10Jul 26, 2010

I can attest to the same. I started the generic effexor xr a week ago and the depressive symptoms have returned.
Cincinnati, OH
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#11Jul 26, 2010

I have been taking 150mg of Effexor XR for a couple of years with no problems. Last week I was switched to the generic version. Within days I was feeling pretty crappy. Not so much physical symptoms but just feeling sad,not feeling like doing much but laying around and ready to cry. Called my provider and described the problems. She said that generics may be 80% to 120% of the brand name. She upped my dosage to 225mg. After first day felt better; hoping it continues until she gets back into town. Will discuss other possibilities then.
Buffalo, NY
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#12Jul 27, 2010

I"ve been taking the generic form of Effexor XR 150 mg for about two weeks. I have been noticing that I am more depressed and subject to excessive sweating. Is anyone else experiencing these side effects.
Buffalo, NY
Racine, WI
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#13Jul 27, 2010

I have been in a little world of misery ever since I was switched to the generic a little over a week ago (same 150mg/ 1xday/ XR). I was initially dizzy/nauseous (typical mild withdrawal as if I forgot to take it one day). That has now been replaced four-five days later with greater generalized anxiety, and a very severe case of what seems to be acid reflux and nausea. This may not be attributed to the generic, but I've never in my life had this chest burning, stomach irritation before now. I can't go back to the name brand until my insurance will cover it, so if my symptoms subside then, I'll have my answer. I'm also having a lot of trouble with my ears - I can't help but think that's just odd and humorous. Anyone else?
Boston, MA
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#14Jul 27, 2010

I am so glad to find this forum....I started taking the generic just four days ago and I have been very sick. My stomach has been very upset, and I've had an unrelenting migraine that I attributed to hormones, but now I definitely think it's the Effexor generic. Tonight I got very very dizzy and am breaking out in hot sweats. I'm planning on calling my doctor tomorrow and inquiring about whether or not the insurance will cover the original version...I'm afraid they won't and i'm not sure what i'll do if that is the case. Has anyone else heard from their insurance companies yet? I'm so angry at these drug companies for screwing us around.
Debbie in Texas
Amarillo, TX
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#15Jul 29, 2010

Effexor XR is extended release. Teva (the company manufacturing the generic form) does not have access to the formula for how to release it. Wellbutrin XL is also extended release, and since going generic, has the same problem. What you folks are going through is a form of withdrawal from Effexor XR because it is probably not releasing the same way that the brand name does. Please do not let your doctor just "up your dose" - when you are ready to get off of this med, you are on a higher dose that you have to withdraw from!

People's Pharmacy has done a great job with keeping track of the problems with generic Wellbutrin XL - if you are having problems with generic Effexor XR, please do not suffer in silence. Let your pharmacist know, let your doctor know, post it in every depression forum you can find. Get the word out!

Generic meds are fine for most things, but these meds that mess with our brains should have more strict guidelines as to how bioequivalent they have to be, and they should be forced to "release" smoothly, as the brand name does.

Please report these problems to the web site at peoplespharmacy - there is a link along the top to "contact us".
Reno, NV
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#18Jul 29, 2010

Yes, I have been taking the generic Effexor XR for about a week and a half, and I have been having episodes of dizziness intermittently, and I seem to be more prone to anxiety in stressful situations than before. One day, I was so dizzy that I had to spend most of the day in bed, so later that day I took two of the brand-name Effexor XR (I took my normal dose of 225mg of the generic that morning) and my symptoms disappeared about 2 hours later. These are the same symptoms I had when I was trying to taper off the medication a few years ago. There is something wrong with this medication--it's either not strong enough, a formulation problem, or something wrong with the time release of the medication! I am on a mission to research this issue more on the internet. I am curious how long it will take for the symptoms to disappear?
Racine, WI
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#19Jul 30, 2010

Debbie, It's my understanding that the generic that was released this month IS an extended release. I know the prior generic was not, but I was told this brand new generic was. Is that not true??

Hannah, my doctor had to write up an order for the brand name prescription due to "side affects" and my insurance was able to then cover it before the "30 days" that it typically would. I wish you luck in doing the same!

I have now been back to the original meds and am so happy to say all my side affects are gone... no heart burn, no stomach upset, and I'm not so ragingly crabby anymore :) Yay!
Debbie in Texas
Amarillo, TX
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#20Jul 30, 2010

Hi Sarah -

Yes, the new generic Effexor XR IS an extended release, but as I attempted to explain above, it may not release smoothly over the 24 hr period, as the brand name does. If it is not "releasing" correctly, it can cause withdrawal side effects, such as what you were having before going back to brand name. It would appear that there may be a problem with the generic, as now that you are back on the brand name, you are feeling better again - do I understand that correctly?
Mike in Missouri
Saint Louis, MO
Reply »|Report Abuse|Judge it!|#21Jul 30, 2010

I went to Walgreens yesterday and they just switched me and no one told me I was getting the generic. I noticed the price difference and I asked about it and they said that I was ok'd to switch to this generic. I said if it doesn't work can I bring it back? the lady said it has the same ingredients so it will and let us know if it doesn't

Of course I take one this morning and around noon my time I get a massive headache and the body aches and feel as if I missed a pill. call walgreens they say well if you didn't want to switch then why did you buy it. boy that's nice.

I explained my situation and even that I read many people have problems with the generic not releasing right and have reported withdrawal side effects, and of course they basically tell me to go fly a kite the manager has to ok it to take medicine back and she wont be in until afternoon tomorrow and I can come buy some effexor at FULL PRICE for 9 dollars a pill ! yay !

I called their complaint number but I am sure that wont do any good. It also isnt all walgreens fault I am about to call my doctor and unload on them next for doing this without consulting me first

purpose in posting ALL this info is to inform people that generics often cause problems but they are dismissed (of course!), and to encourage those who suddenly have unexplained flare-ups in symptoms -- one thing to think about might be a recent switch to generic drugs… or a switch from one generic to another, The above quotes are relatively few in number but will illustrate the problem. Many people are suffering like this and don't think about checking their generic drugs. If you do have a problem, peoplespharmacy (noted above in the quote surrounded by double stars) will tell you where to file a complaint about the drug. To reach their website, put in the w's at the front and the com at the back.


January - February 17

sorry for the glitches in the posting - it didn't look like that before it posted.


Noca - February 17

January - I didn't know you were talking about generics from China or India, of course they have poor quality control over there. All my posts were regarding North American made generics.


January - February 17

HI Noca - thanks for responding. Apparently the source of fillers on many drugs is not clear ("proprietary information"). The Graedons are doing some wonderful work, and there seems to be a HUGE problem with generics. I know China and India are problematic, but it isn't clear where other drug companies get their cheap fillers…. so who knows?

I was struck that there were SO many complaints about antidepressants which are regularly used by the fibro community! I had a bad time on some of them and their generics myself, but didn't have a CLUE why I felt so horrible! (And really, I felt HORRIBLE!) Hope this post can help someone.

All the best to you!



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