Research: Generic lung meds cause discomfort in many patients

Inhaler (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Mendel). (Inhaler (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Mendel))

One in five patients taking lung medication have been switched to a generic brand in order to reduce the cost of medicines. Almost half of these patients have experienced discomfort due to the switch.

This is according to a study done by NIVEL and the University of Utrecht among 518 patients and 24 pharmacies. The research was funded by the Longfonds.

Once a drug's patent expires other manufactures can start making the drug. hey use the same active ingredient, but produce it for cheaper. With lung medicines, this is often done by using other inhalers. According to the preference policy, insurance companies chooses one brand of medicine that they refund, often going for the generic brands as they reduce the cost of medicine.

As a result about one in five patients' lung medicines were switched last year. 53 percent of these patients did not experience any problems with the switch. But 30 percent experienced relatively minor problems and 17 percent experienced significant problems.

About a quarter, 23 percent, of the patients whose medication was switched experienced problems with the practical use of the medicines, such as problems with the inhaler, compared to 13 percent among patients whose medication was not changed. Switchers also reported slightly more side effects, slightly more often do not use the medicine as prescribed and feel they have less control over their lung disease.

Two thirds of the switchers did not receive any information from their healthcare provider or insurer about the possible consequences of the change. If patients received information, it most often came from the pharmacist.