No single answer to brand question

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

By Dr. John KochQuestion: I have been treating my dog for heart failure. One of the medications he has been taking is a diuretic. The diuretic reduces the fluid that builds up in his lungs and helps him to breathe easier. I have noticed that this medication does not seem to produce consistent results. I finally realized that sometimes I get a generic brand and it does not work as well. The brand-name medication costs more, but it appears to do a better job. Is there a difference between brand name medications and their corresponding generics, or is this just my imagination?

Answer: This is a difficult question because the answer varies depending on which drug you are considering and which patient is taking the drug. Manufacturers of brand-name medications will argue that their products are purer, more refined, better absorbed and more efficiently used by patients. Companies making generic medications say that other than cost, there is no difference. Often which is best is simply a matter of opinion.

Most generics are probably comparable to brand names. However, for some medications doctors have definite preferences for brand-name medications. When there is a legitimate choice, many doctors or pharmacists will often leave the decision to the pet owner.

There can also be a difference between patients, and that may be the situation with your dog. Some pets may indeed respond better to one medication than another. Trial and error may be the only way of determining which works the best.

Sometimes psychology plays a role as well. If you think one is better, then in your mind it will be regardless of whether it actually is.

If you have a question about a specific generic or brand-name medication, discuss it with your veterinarian.

Dr. Koch is a Cape Girardeau veterinarian.

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