Mainstream drugs in short supply

Diabetes is a common condition in Australia with about 1.7 million confirmed cases of Diabetes 2. Most people take tablets as treatment. Tablets can be fast release or slow release. I was amazed to find that for the past 12 months both varieties of tablets have not been available at various times and chemists have often been scrambling to try to get supplies. This means brands available change from month to month. These are essential drugs not fashion items.

I recently discovered that a common prescription medicine for arthritis has been unavailable for some time.

Considering that the market for such drugs is increasing and pharmaceutical suppliers should be fairly aware of the demand for their drugs, why the hell are these shortages occurring? Could Choice look into this and find out why? It’s not like these are new products and they have no idea of what the demand will be - the quantities demanded are known and increases should be easy to work into the equation.

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Thanks for the tip @johnkerr, I’ll pass it on. If other readers have had a similar experience, please post it in the comments below.

Maybe shortages is because of the introduction of generic brands following ability to do so And without anything other than random testing. We are told exactly the same when not so at all. Only the active ingredient is to be present and not mandated to be 1st grade chemical used either and then the fillers can change the affiacy of the drug. Chemists now need to stock many more brands by various companies of original or generic drugs.
The only arthritis drug on PBS I knew was taken off the market by FDA and Oz followed suit.

My worst nightmare is generic drugs being I am a fast metabolizer so find these weaker generics a waste of time and money on top of prolonging infections and pain.

As I too suffer arthritis and pain killers for instance - generics less effective pain than original like Panadeine Forte and if one has 240 a month then pay $22 all up including the levy in place of the $6.30 concession. There is in fact now a re-badge made by same original company via set up another to handle re-badging to beat the generic Co’s and get back some of the R&D to bring it to market etc.
The re-badge for Panadeine Forte is Prodeine Forte seniors then get their 12 boxes for $6.30 concession a big saving for those on the age pension.

Lots more of this going on and these days I go home before filling scripts to check name of original as all too often over past years been given a lesser generic in particular, painkillers and antibiotics.
Neither of which are the exact same at all, and all too often an infection has come back using generics. Which doesn’t save the government coffers but cost more for a re-turn GP visit and another dispensing fee. Even had a generic named on the script by a GP.

this having to stock so many more drugs than the originals is maybe why we find it hard to get what we want from one chemist as I have found more and more recently, have to shop many to find original antibiotic in particular. And google generics as in December 2006 then Health Minister Abbott put out a media release re pharmacists being paid more to push these generics drugs and he was having to claw back over time etc. May be archived now. But did occur and why they pushed them hard to gain extra profit. Also patient can go to PBS and search their scripted drug and see the original as it is marked for the levy on top of the concession or price charged to patient.

If a drug has a generic brand and is available on the PBS it must be the same quality (it is mandated) and efficacy as the original, it isn’t weaker. Please see this from the Government website:

Of course you may not tolerate some of the fillers but this can occur both for generic and brand name. I was unable to use some Brand name medications because of the fillers and preservatives they used and found better relief on some generic brands.

You may not get some drugs on the PBS if the Government feels that another drug has the same benefit. In this case some people are better served by the non PBS drug and pay the additional cost. In this case a case may be made to the PBS scheme to have the drug included. There have recently been new additions to the scheme based on this process.

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I am not surprised to get this sort of answer to a complaint of weaker generics. Link doesn’t actually spell it out as you said. No mandate that the chemicals used are off the 1st grade available.
And of course her in Sydney, proof that things may not be kosher is Pan Pharmaceuticals being closed down for short cutting process for profit, after a person suffered, and it being one of the randomly tested generic type companies is a pointer that putting out this notice isn’t positive proof all generics are equal to original drug. And we have to take their approval as verbatim.
Also the bit re cos isnt a factor is bull, as this is the real reason the government approved generics to save money and why we pay a levy now for the real thing. FACT.

Most pharmaceutical companies patent their new drugs after approval by the FDA which our lot take on board as kosher and dont test all individually for themselves. When generics were allowed FDA specified that all original drugs have patents and registered trademarks on all products. Companies who make generic versions of this can’t legally claim to be the same but merely "compared to… " This is because patent rights forbid another generic company from using the exact same formula. It’s illegal for anyone to use exact same formula and or ingredients.

And an answer to a query about finding a generic drug weaker than original was this " The main difference between brand name and generic medications is that generics are legally allowed a 20% margin of error in regards to the purity and amount of active ingredient present in the drugs they manufacture.
I have a sneaky suspicion that “accidentally” including the bare minimum required by law might very well be common practice for some of these companies. 20% can well be a pretty significant profit increase and strangely today greed for profits overcome compassion all too often.
And all the main antibiotics and painkillers are on the PBS scheme anyway.

And the comment was in answer to the unavailability of some and I gave a good reason why.

Far too many of these generics and chemists wont stock them all. And often not the original and why? Well back in 2006 they were found to be profiteering by being paid more by the generic drug companies to push them. Fact. On record.
And if cost isn’t a factor as they also say on the link, why then do we have to pay extra to get the original? Cost was the main factor given for the introduction of generics as cheaper.

So I’ll stick to my own opinion that the generics are the worst idea ever entertained and its all about money nothing to do with best for the public good.

And you can quote rules that most ignore anyway in favour of profit and get away with it as they did pushing these generics for extra profit and likely still do . Profit drives today as greed has overwhelmed ethics. The few who still have ethics get shouted down or demonized.

Dear @houzer

I was not arguing with why some Brands do not appear on shelves or your need for particular brands of drugs but rather your take on the fact that the active ingredients are not 1st quality.

From the link above that I provided:
“Are generic prescription medicines effective?
A generic prescription medicine works in the same way as the existing medicine. What matters is the active ingredient, which is the same in the generic brands and the existing brand. {my highlighting}”

“How do I know that generic prescription medicines are as safe as possible?
Generic prescription medicines meet the same standards of quality, safety and effectiveness as the original brand” {again my highlighting}

and from the Pharmacuetical Inspection Convention which covers all drugs either Brand name or Generic and which has been adopted by Australia is this:

the finished products contain active ingredients complying with the
qualitative and quantitative composition of the marketing authorisation,
are of the purity required, and are enclosed within their proper
containers and correctly labelled; "

The only reference that is consistently made as to percentage of active ingredient in a product was the margin of error of + or - 5%.

However FDA allowed the maximum level in blood to have a margin of error that only allowed the active ingredient in the blood to range between 80% and 125% of the Branded drug “This narrow range ensures that the generic will perform similarly to the branded drug.” Perhaps this is where you got the 20% range from? By the way FDA did testing on the maximum presence in blood margin and on the majority it was close to only ± 3.5% but some did range greater than ± 10%

Also read this from DrugPatentWatch, it has information on a number of the issues you raised including the difference in cost:

A Drug Company that produces a “new drug” is allowed 20 years after it receives approval in which to recoup the additional costs of the innovation after which the drug can then be subject to generic production. In the case of Panadiene Forte the company could have lowered their price rather than set up a second company to sell a re-badged product (an additional cost). In the US about 50% of Brand Drug makers also produce the generic brands.

Further I don’t suggest that you abandon your use of the drugs you wish to use if they are Brand Name types (some I take need to be Brand type) and you may also be a person to whom the “inactives” in certain brands interfere, just ensure your Dr uses the box on the Script to stop substitution (which I am sure you do). I just make the point that to say a drug is less effective because it is generic is quite a wide argument that is dis-proven by evidence, but again, yes certain people may not be able to gain the best benefit and then the brand that works for them should be used.

Many Brand Name drugs have also been subject to recalls based on failure to contain the required amount of active ingredients, contamination, adverse reactions and other concerns. Brand Name Companies are just as much about profit as a Generic company for an example the products sold as varieties of Nurofen whose company was fined for deceptive practices in marketing the same product for different pricing.

If you notice a problem with a drug either generic or brand name the TGA invite/ask you to lodge a report:

More and more are being diagnosed daily… Not surprising. Possibly something to do with it.