Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pharmaceutical Scientist

I have a close friend who is a scientist for a large Pharmaceutical company. I don't normally talk to her about drugs and such because who wants to talk about work on fun time? But we were out on a small girls night out with one other person. Since the two of them are new moms, our conversations covered a large variety of topics usually surrounding little girls.

I decided the time was right to ask my pharmaceutical researcher a general question about drugs. We are close enough that she is very familiar with many of my Migraine challenges. I asked how she felt about brand meds vs generic meds. She quickly answered that they were EXACTLY the same. To use the generics if you could. That the FDA has certain guidelines the drug companies have to follow so they are exactly the same.

I told her that I read about how the FDA allows a 20% variance, either way, in the bioavailability of generic medications. (Bioavailability is the rate at which a medication is absorbed into the body). I continued that I could get one prescription from one manufacturer which was 20% below the brand and then the next prescription could be from a different manufacturer which was 20% above. That could be a 40% difference from one prescription dose to the next.

She muttered some technical mumbo jumbo terms as she processed the information and threw in some FDAs and some pharmaceutical words. Finally she said that that makes sense and given the medications I have taken along with the difficulties I had with the generics, these generics probably wouldn't be a good choice for me. She knew about my trials with Topiramate even though I had never gone into my specific reactions with her.

My friend is someone who runs huge drug studies which go down to the metabolic level. Her exposure to drugs is very different than that of a pharmacist on many different levels. I was surprised and encouraged that I could pass new information about something I am uncomfortable talking about to someone who is very knowledgeable.

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