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Physicians and Patients Across Texas Decry Trend of Unauthorized Generic Drug Substitutions
Date:3/12/2008

AUSTIN, Texas, March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A growing trend is emerging across Texas as more and more patients discover that their prescriptions have been switched to generic versions of brand-name medications without their knowledge or prior consent. The movement has also alarmed many physicians, who state that they are deliberate in their decision to prescribe a specific medication and emphasize the danger of substitutions being made without their knowledge.

The reasons for switching medications are varied and can sometimes be confusing to a patient. Many insurance companies have an institutional policy of encouraging patients and physicians to substitute medications within the same drug class based solely on cost considerations. Also, generic medications are typically available at a lower co-payment level which, in turn, leads the consumer to believe they are receiving the same course of treatment prescribed by their doctor while saving money. This, unfortunately, is not always the case and many safety issues have arisen as a result of this practice.

"Undetected medication switching is a source of major stress among patients," Dr. Randeep Suneja of Houston, said. "We're finding that as a growing number of patients take an active and educated role in their treatment options, many are concerned that with generic medications, they aren't receiving the optimum formulation required to properly address their medical condition."

Depending on the situation, substitution is often decided at the pharmacy counter because of a patient decision or due to the patient's healthcare plan dictating certain requirements for formulary coverage.

The topic of switching has reached the national stage and as a result, more than half of the 50 state Attorneys General have weighed in on the issue. Earlier this month, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that his office had settled a lawsuit that requires a major pharmacy benefits manager to inform patients and drug prescribers about the effect a switch to a generic will have on the patient's co-payment, and what financial incentives the benefits manager will realize for initiating a drug switch. Abbott's office also ruled that benefits managers must notify patients and prescribers that a patient can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses associated with drug-switching, and that patients have the right to decline the drug switch.

Education, coupled with an acute awareness of what is prescribed versus what is being dispensed by a pharmacist, is paramount to ensure that a patient receives the recommended treatment their physician desires. A host of resources are available on this topic and many experts speak frequently about drug switching. For more information, or to see the variety of opinions on brand-name drugs and their distinct benefits, please visit American Medical Association's site at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/17730.html or the American College of Cardiology's position statement at http://www.acc.org/qualityandscience/clinical/stc/therapeutic.htm

Contact: Kevin Smothers or Meg Meo

Elizabeth Christian & Associates Public Relations, 512-472-9599

ksmothers@echristianpr.com or mmeo@echristianpr.com


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SOURCE Dr. Randeep Suneja
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