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Old 01-01-2005, 07:29 AM   #1
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Question Generic Synthroid - not as good?

I'm new here. I had my thyroid removed; one half in February 2004 and the other in May 2004 due to hurthle cell cancer. My endocrinologist put me on Synthroid and has been working for the past 7 months to regulate the dosage.

Before my last appointment I had to have the endo's office call in an extension to my prescription since it was going to run out before the appointment. The pharmacy substituted a generic levothryoxine instead of the brand name Synthroid I had been taking. That was around 3 weeks ago.

While on the generic, I experience a lot of pain and stiffness in my back, hips, legs and feet. Then I went to my appointment and my doctor upped my dosage again, so I received a new prescription for the brand name Synthroid. Three days into the new prescription I started feeling much better; the pain and stiffness disappeared!

Has anyone else experienced something similar while on generic synthroid? It's amazing what a difference there is!

 
Old 01-01-2005, 08:51 AM   #2
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

YES!!! This happened to me too! Only I didn't connect the dots to the return of symptoms to the generic...and I had taken it for three months. When it dawned on me that it could possibly be the culprit...I made an appointment to see my Dr. She concurred that it was the result of the symptoms returning and wrote out DAW (Dispense as written) on my new prescriptions. One I turned in that day with my local pharmacy because I was "losing it" and was dire to get feeling better. Foggy thinking was setting in again, and I HATE THAT!...within THREE HOURS of taking the synthroid I was improving...however it took awhile before all of the symptoms went away!

It's good to post about this, about generic, for those of us on synthroid (or othes) just to be aware that a difference can effect us.

My Dr. mentioned that generic's can sway 20% in comparison to brand, and they can STILL get away with calling it the "same"...well...in a medication like we take that can have a HUGE impact!

Make sure you always have your Dr. write DAW on your prescriptions.
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Old 01-01-2005, 09:11 AM   #3
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

Yes, I had the same problem with generics. However, going back to Synthroid was not an option, as my insurance company will not cover it anymore (since we can get a generic version). I am currently in my third week of taking Levoxyl (insurance company considers THIS a generic. Go figure) and I'm feeling a little better. When on the generics, my T3 dropped incredibly, even though the dosage was the same.

My FT3 went from 330 to 241 (Range 230-420). My TSH (not that it matters, but just as a reference) went from .28 to 1.94 on the generic drugs. I took the generics for 3 months and it sucked badly.

 
Old 01-01-2005, 09:11 AM   #4
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

Amen to what Lynn says.

"Generic" isn't just one med. They can be manufactured by any number of companies, simply without a brand name on the label. The problem occurs when your pharmacy buys a supply of one company's product, usually because that company gives them the lowest price for that shipment. Three months later, another company might offer the lowest price, so the "un-brand" (a.k.a. "generic") changes. While one company's generic may be perfectly fine for you, the next time you fill your script, you might get a different "generic" that doesn't work for you the way the first one did.

The advantage to having one brand name, such as Synthroid, for each and every refill is that you know what you're getting. If that particular brand works best for you, you shouldn't switch. The best and smartest doctors know this. I think pharmacists are beginning to catch on as well. It's the insurance companies who will fight the facts tooth and nail in their efforts to contain costs. If an insurance company attempts to limit your thyroid med to generics only, your doctor can file an appeal for you and probably win.

 
Old 01-01-2005, 09:37 AM   #5
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn**
It's good to post about this, about generic, for those of us on synthroid (or othes) just to be aware that a difference can effect us.
Very true. Different brands (including generics) may be absorbed differently by different people. What works well fo ryou might not work well for someone else, though.

Quote:
My Dr. mentioned that generic's can sway 20% in comparison to brand, and they can STILL get away with calling it the "same"...well...in a medication like we take that can have a HUGE impact!
Your doctor is either misinformed, or a liar. Generics have to meet the same stringent quality control and potency standards as the brand names or they have to be pulled from the market. A few years ago all levothyroxine meds had to go through approval by the FDA because one brand had extremem potency problems and measured +- 20% of the potency on the label. That brand was SYNTHROID!

Over the last few years, the levothyroxine with the worst track record of recalls due to potenc problems has been Synthroid closely followed by Levoxyl. Unithroid, though not marketed as heavily has had a much better track record than either of the other big brands, and is my brand of choice because of it. Unithroid was also the first to be appoved when the FDA mandated the approval.

Quote:
Make sure you always have your Dr. write DAW on your prescriptions.
GREAT advice! regardless of what brand or generic you choose to take, consistency is the key because you may not absorb another brand equally. Pick one, and stick with it.
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Old 01-03-2005, 08:04 AM   #6
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

I switched from brand to generic in September to save money, and boy did I feel the difference. I was a little low anyway (recently rectified that) and that was the last straw. I was tired, cranky and despite exercise and diet kept gaining. I have no thyroid due to birth defect, so I depend wholey (sp?) on the medication.

Talked to my former family doctor and he said the I need to stay on brand since it is more consistent and its what I have been on all my life. He is usually very honest and will give you generic if its as good.

So I went to my OBGYN to get tested anyway and he gave me an increase in dose and I got brand name again. Wow! Almost two weeks later and I finally feel out of the fog and not as hungry. Looking forward to trying to lose the 20+ pounds I regained for the last year or two (after dumb butt docs at the school clinic ignored the interaction between BC Pills and Synthoird and I crashed) of being on the low side.
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Old 05-05-2005, 01:45 PM   #7
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

I had hurthle cell c, and a total thyroidectomy, so I take replacement hormone (.162 synthroid). When I have had to go hypo ( 2 times) to have a whole body scan with I-131, I used cytomel to get on and off the synthetic thyroid hormone (the T4--synthroid). I felt so much better on cytomel!!! Cytomel is T3 if I'm not mistaken. Everyone around me commented that I seemed like my old self, had more energy, more sunny, etc. But my doc would not let me stay on it except for those few weeks because he said it can cause cardiac problems. Anyone else know anything about this? Unfortunately, I'm stuck on synthroid, just glad I'm alive, but (sortof) in a fog.

Last edited by cpc; 05-05-2005 at 01:47 PM.

 
Old 05-05-2005, 07:23 PM   #8
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

I posted not too long ago about my experience. I don't like the generic. But I have been on synthroid for two years now and should never have tried the generic.
Basically from what I've read, If you start on the generic and stay on the generic you should be okay.
If you start on synthroid and stay on synthroid you should be okay.
But if you start on one and change to the other then you could have problems.
Been doing a lot of reading on bioequivalence and the FDA guidelines.
Even though they are still therapeutically equivalent, the FDA allows for a difference in percentage of potency from one drug to the other, but it rarely exceeds a 10% difference. Most fall within the range of 2% to 3%. Even with this small percentage it is enough to change one's tsh level. That is why it is recommended to get retested eight weeks after switching from on to the other. It's all so confusing.
You can't believe everything that you read, but the common consensus that pops up when I research is that you should get retested if you switch from one to the other.
I just know how I feel personally, and I feel much better everyday since I got my synthroid back.
Nodi

 
Old 05-05-2005, 09:12 PM   #9
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

Hi there,

I'm quoting my doctor here: He told me (newly onset - hashi's/hypo/nodule), he would not allow generics, because they vary (there was no discussion of %), but from what I understand, a small variance in the thyroid medication or the thyroid activity can make an enormous impact on us.

With that being said, he prescribed levoxyl (and levoxyl only - no generics because of the variance). My doc told me that if you have a generic script, that everytime you refill, it could come from different companies each time.

Our thyroids are incredibly touchy, in that a small variance can have have large effects.

I agree with the other posts, in that, stick with one, and only one mfgr. for at least a good time period or at least til you feel right!

Consistency is truly the key.

 
Old 05-06-2005, 10:13 PM   #10
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

Suggestion if you want name brands but insurance won't let you because of the generic equivalent. If your doctor prescribes a name brand...example, Synthroid and indicates "No Substitutions" you should be fine. The insurance company cannot make you take the generic if the doctor has indicated "No Substitutions". The only problem I have is that my insurance doesn't pay nearly as well. The regular price for Synthroid is around $26 at Walgreens and I pay $17 after insurance. If I were to get generic it would only be $10. The same goes for through the mail...if I do Express Scripts & get generic I pay $10 for a 90 day supply, but for Synthroid I pay about $40. I'm OK with it though because I do feel much better on the Synthroid. It's what I used to take up until they came out with the generic. That was back when my Family Dr. was still treating me. I recommend an endo to everyone...I think the chance of them knowing what's going on is far better.

 
Old 05-07-2005, 06:35 AM   #11
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LKeeney70
I recommend an endo to everyone...I think the chance of them knowing what's going on is far better.
You're very lucky to have that experience. I, for one, couldn't disagree more about them knowing "what's going on" with hypothyroidism. I had a bad experience with one, as have many, many people who come to the board for help. IMO, an endo should be the last kind of doctor to consult for this condition. For hyperT, they are probably better, however.

 
Old 05-07-2005, 05:51 PM   #12
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Re: Generic Synthroid - not as good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by midwest1
You're very lucky to have that experience. I, for one, couldn't disagree more about them knowing "what's going on" with hypothyroidism. I had a bad experience with one, as have many, many people who come to the board for help. IMO, an endo should be the last kind of doctor to consult for this condition. For hyperT, they are probably better, however.
That really is sad that an endocrinologist wouldn't be able to help, but I'm sure it happens. I guess I meant compared to a Family Doctor...but maybe more people have good luck with their family doctors. For me...the only info my Fam. Dr. knew was what I gave her that I brought in from the net and here on this site. My endo told me alot of Dr.'s only know the general info they hear and not the more in depth studies. There is a lot of info out there that if your TSH is under 10 etc., you're fine and blah blah and he said alot of Dr.'s don't know any better...they treat the test and not the symptoms. It was all very interesting to me, but I assumed the reason he knew so much was because he was an endo. Maybe not huh? Maybe he's just a good Dr. and I got lucky! Who knew...I'm glad I found him!
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