Many seniors are taking multiple prescriptions and it is often hard to determine which medications were originally prescribed and which were substituted for generics. Sometimes, the generics may be confusing.
A recent New York Times column noted that the practice of giving drugs two names, a brand name and a generic name, makes no sense. The column explained that worldwide, almost all medications have a brand name that remains patent protected for 20 years, meaning the patent holder is the sole manufacturer and distributor. That allows the holder to charge more for it.
“When drugs go generic (for example, Tylenol to acetaminophen), anyone can make them and the price tends to drop, meaning company profits drop, too. But the companies keep the brand names, and insist they be used wherever they can, because they know people tend to trust brand names more, even when there is no difference from the generic.
To make things even more confusing, we have recently seen a proliferation of look-alike, sound-alike meds. For example: Zantac is used to treat heartburn, while Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication. A list of these sound-alikes fills a full eight pages on the Institute of Safe Medication Practices website.”
The ramifications for caregivers and seniors are vital since taking the wrong medication can have serious health effects. At Assisting Hands, our home aides can help ensure that the right medications are being administered.