I am going to be (hopefully) switching from Alesse to another bc within the next month, and as I'm not on any drug plan, I'm curious about the comparison between the brand name drugs and their generic counterparts, including price. Is it worth the risk to attempt the generic brand first, or is the difference in cost just not that huge of a deal?
As a standpoint, I just paid $50 and change Canadian for three months of Alesse.
There really is no risk with using a generic because it is just the brand name drug with a different name, different look, and lower price. If it wasn't exactly the same, the generic wouldn't be allowed to be on the shelf. There are some people out there, though, you refuse to use a generic claiming that is doesn't work. I have used generics for other medications (not bc because the one I am on doesn't come in generic) and they have worked just fine.
I'm not sure about the costs in Canada, but in the States the generic of Alesse (Aviane, manufactured by Barr Pharmaceuticals) is about $20-30 for a months supply. This is without insurance. Of course, it would most likely be much cheaper then that for you (I am again, very unfamiliar with the Canadian health care system).
As far as the actual physical difference between the brand and the generic goes, there isn't much to be concerned about. The active ingredients in the medications will always be exactly the same. The active ingredients being, of course, the most important part. The inactive ingredients (or fillers) will often be the same as or very similar to the brand medication. Often concern is only needed for people with specific allergies to a filler (although, this is very rare).
The difference in cost isn't a result of the generic manufactures using cheaper ingredients as filler. Generic drugs are less expensive simply because the manufacture doesn't have the extra costs required of brand medications (i.e... development, advertising, drug reps.) Generic drugs are established medications that doctors have already been made aware of and are already prescribing. Therefore, the cost is often just the result of the manufacturing product, some minor advertising to pharmaceutical distributors, and perhaps cost of buying the patent.
In fact, many generic medications are actually manufactured by the same company that makes the brand (or a subsidiary of that company). It's all politics.
I also believe that Barr is a popular company in Canada. They have a highly established reputation in Women's Health products. In the States, they're probably responsible for manufacturing more generic birth control products then any other company (although, I could be wrong on that statistic). Barr is of course also known for "Plan B", which is manufactured by it's subsidiary Duramed.
In my experience (working in a pharmacy as well as taking the generic Alesse myself) the generic form of this medication is very much reliable and cost effective. It's never bad to save a few dollars if your going to get the same results!
I hope this information helped! Good luck with the switch if you make it!
My insurance tried to substitute my BCP for the generic and I had horrible side effects. I complained to my doctor when I was in there and she said generics are normally fine but when messing with hormones she does not recommend the generic version because the FDA does not regulate all of the ingredients. While the savings is nice, BCP is so hit or miss and varied by person anyways I don't think its worth it.
The only difference between brand vs. generic is the inactive ingredients. That's why one of them might be a different color than the other, and they come in a different package. As far as the level of hormones is concerned, it's the same level in the generic. That's the big secret about generics, it's the same ACTIVE ingredients, so you're paying less for the same thing.
People who are afraid of generics end up paying through the nose for name brand when it's completely unnecessary. I was on microgestin, the generic for Loestrin, for over 5 years and never had an accidental pregnancy. It's really not as big of a deal as people make it out to be.