Brand-name drug may not be needed

Given that they are safe, effective and cheaper than brand-name drugs, people may want to use generics and make sure their doctor and pharmacist provide the option. Here are a few suggestions:

lAsk your doctor whether a drug he’s prescribing exists in a generic form and what the price difference is. Don’t wait until you reach the pharmacy and experience sticker shock.

lIf your drug does not have a generic equivalent, ask your doctor if you can take another medication in the same class that does have a generic form.

l Note that a pharmacist may give you a generic drug instead of a brand-name, unless your prescription says “no substitutions” or “Dispense as Written.”

l Search the FDA’s Orange Book, a list of all approved generic drugs: www.accessdata.

l  If you switch drugs — generic to brand-name or brand-name to generic — and suspect that doing so has produced side effects, you can report them to the FDA’s MedWatch program:

l  Whether you are taking brand-name medications or generics, always take the drugs as prescribed.

l  Check out the Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs report and database: www.

Ranit Mishori