Two Names

The other day I had one of my regular patients call me on the phone wanting to know if I carried the generic version of a particular medication yet.  I explained to this patient that this medication is not yet available as a generic; it is only available as trade name.  He said, “So, you don’t carry it yet?”  

So, I re-adjusted the phone headset on my ear and began explaining again that this particular medication has not yet come off patent; therefore, it is only available as a trade name product.  He then said, “So, if I understand you correctly, it is only available as a generic in the hospital setting.  Last week when I was in the hospital they were giving me the generic version of this medication, and they called it by its generic name.”

I adjusted my footing two steps to the left and began again.  In the most polite tone I could deliver, I explained that each medication has two names, a generic name and a trade name.  I discussed that the nurse who was handing him his medication was calling it by its generic name.  This was correct because that is one of its names; however, it also has a trade name.  The patient then asked me, “Well, how do I know if she was giving me the generic or the trade name, they both look the same?”

This was getting near the end point for this gentleman.  I needed to close the deal with an explanation or I was going to lose him with my clear inability to answer his simple question. 

Again, I adjusted my footing, re-positioned my headset and began my answer.  I went back to the tried and true explanation that there are two names for every medication.  I explained that in the hospital, quite often, the medical and nursing staff talk about medications using their generic name.   Even though a medication may not yet be available through a generic company, they still refer to it using its generic name. 

“OHHH”, he said, interrupting me.  “I get it; it hasn’t come off patent yet.”  That’s it I explained.  After a medication comes off patent, many different companies are able to produce generic versions of the medication, with FDA approval of course.  While the company still holds the patent for a product, they are the only ones who may legally manufacture the medication.  Even though the medication is still covered by a patent and is only available under its trade name, many medical professionals will refer to it using its generic name.

You may also be interested in reading the following blogs:
Generics, The Untold Story
My Pills Look Different
The Danger With Dietary Supplements

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