Generic Salbutamol – some thoughts…

I forgot to cover, when I wrote the post about why Ventolin might not be effective, the question of generic Salbutamol.

This, of course, is NOT Ventolin, and from long experience of the stuff, I can tell you with absolute certainty that IT IS NOT AS GOOD AS VENTOLIN. I don’t care what NICE claim – it simply is not as effective.

It may not even be the same drug, at a molecular level. Did you ever make salt in chemistry lessons at school? Remember that there were several different ways to arrive at “salt” – but using different combinations of  chemicals?

You may get salt at the end of each process, but they will not all be exactly the same at the molecular level. It will be sodium chloride PLUS a variety of chemical odds and sods; maybe just a few molecules here and there, but enough to make a perceptible difference were the substance to be analysed.

It’s the same with generic drugs – there are different – and cheaper –  ways to arrive at what, ostensibly, is the same drug, but the end results may – and probably do – differ from the branded product in minute, but signficant, significant ways. Ways which render the generic version less effective.

This is certainly the case with generic Ventolin, of that I have no doubt at all.

Oh, I know, some may argue that my condition changed while I was using the generic version, which is why I felt it wasn’t effective. That would be bullshit. At that time I was relatively stable, and there is no doubt that my ability to breathe was compromised by generic Salbutamol. One question I can’t answer, though, is how the progress of my COPD will be affected by generic Salbutamol – though I can be certain that it sure as hell won’t be for the better.

My local pharmacist, a jerk in so many ways, only stocks Ventolin, not the generic versions, which is the only reason I put up with him.

Hospitals, too, use Ventolin for pulmonary function testing, not generics, so what does that yell you? It tells me that not only aren’t generics as effective as Ventolin, they are not as reliable in their effect either.

So why is it, do you think, that we – the patients – have to suffer second-rate drugs? Because you can bank on it the same differences apply across the board. It’s purely because NICE are cheap bastards. Their role has changed over the years – now their primary function is as the bean-counters of the NHS. If it’s cheap you can have it, if it’s not, you can’t, pretty much sums up their basic philosophy.

NICE works on the premise that all generics are the same as the branded drugs. Have they tested them all (and there are thousands), to verify that? No, of course not. As far as NICE is concerned, everything does what it says on the box. And that, my friends, is an incredibly dangerous attitude.

In fairness, I do take a lot of generic drugs, besides Salbutamol and, as far as I can tell, they’re fine. Generic Salbutamol inhalers, however, are NOT fine. Not at all.

And please – never refer to generic Salbutamol as Ventolin, because  then the assumption will be that you’re taking the branded drug. An assumption I made, possibly wrongly, in the post to which I referred earlier.

The problem, though, doesn’t seem to extend to Salbutamol nebules, although the fact that the dose is so very much bigger than a couple of squirts from an inhaler may mask their shortcomings.

I’ve written, here, about the egregious, dishonest, fake drugs scare-mongering TV ad – basic argument, buy drugs online, and you’ll probably die because they’ll be fakes (no, they won’t – I’ve bought drugs online for years). It’s known, though, that there are many fake generic drugs in the system, but there appears to be no mechanism in place to ensure that the generic drugs supplied via the NHS are actually safer than they’re claimed to be if bought online.

There’s a thought to keep you awake nights.