It’s no secret that drug prices in the United States today are steep and going up all the time. Pharmacists can help patients deal with these high costs by recommending generic substitutes, which will save patients money and increase adherence, improve results, and avoid complications and hospital visits.
Prescriptions are now filled electronically, so the patient often has no idea what drug has been prescribed, whether covered by insurance or the copay. The patient usually gets a very rude surprise when they find out their insurance won’t cover it or has a high copay.
Some pharmacists recommend talking with the patient before filling a prescription for an expensive brand-name drug and informing them of the available generic options to discuss possible alternatives with their physician.
Even with over-the-counter drugs, pharmacists can explain the advantages of generics, informing the customer that the generic has the same active ingredient as the brand name medication and provides the same therapeutic effect. Once patients understand the value of a generic, they will almost always take it over the brand name drug.
Sometimes patients forgo generics because of concerns about safety and quality. But suppose the pharmacist takes the time to explain the manufacturing and quality control processes that apply to generics. In that case, patients feel much more comfortable taking them and will switch from the brand name.
Other pharmacists recommend reviewing patient records to determine if patients can substitute generics for the brand name drugs they are taking. Pharmacists need to communicate with patients about their medications and involve patients in the drug selection process.
Pharmacists also need to keep in mind the possibility of a therapeutic interchange, substituting a generic drug type that is different from the prescribed brand name medication but having the same therapeutic effects. This could also save the patient a significant amount of money.
When looking at an interchange, the pharmacist needs to examine the evidence for the generic alternative’s clinical effectiveness. But an interchange can often carry the same benefits. For example, an older generic hypertension medication can be just as effective as a new brand name hypertension drug..
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