Suppose your doctor gives you a prescription for a drug, say Motrin 400MG, you take it to your drug store, and they offer you a generic equivalent for a lot less money. Depending on your insurance, the drug, and the pharmacy, it could be a difference of $4 for the generic drug versus $40 (or more) for the brand. But there is a move afoot by pharmaceutical manufacturers to get legislatures around the country to mandate the use of brand drugs with certain steps required in order to dispense a generic. Here is the text of a Michigan law designed to do just that.

Sec. 17769. A pharmacist shall not interchange an antiepileptic drug or formulation of an antiepileptic drug that is prescribed for the treatment of epilepsy or the treatment or prevention of seizures without prior notification of and the signed informed consent to the interchange by the prescribing physician and patient or the patient’s parent, legal guardian, spouse, or other legal representative.” [Bold added by me]

“Interchange,” as used here, means to substitute a generic equivalent…a chemically equivalent formulation of a drug…THE SAME THING! The only difference is it costs us (and insurance companies) less. If I was epileptic and lived in Michigan, I would be seriously upset with the representatives who submitted this bill. And according to the friend who sent me the story, Tennessee has already passed a similar law and other states are considering a similar bill.

As my friend said, “This is the latest ploy by Pharma to try to offset the growing use of generics.  Not surprisingly, certain popular anti-convulsive drugs will soon go off patent, so this is clearly a sleazy strategy to prevent pharmacies from dispensing generics.”

If this bill passes in Michigan like it has in Tennessee, it’s likely to be tried by more pharmaceutical manufacturers for different classes of drugs, and in different states. So the time to stop it is now!