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Food and Drug Administration, FDA, USFDA

    Drugs and Substitutes: How to Choose the Right Drug

    The pharmaceutical market is now full of varieties of medicines. However, not all of them can be of high quality and effectiveness. I will tell you how to choose the right drugs, how to distinguish genuine medicines from substitutes, and what are the drug guides?

    How not to harm your body during treatment

    When it comes to the choice of drugs, the right choice becomes extremely important. Indeed, it’s not the style of pants or taste of pizza – mistakes with drugs are much more critical. At the same time, this choice is very difficult and has many pitfalls. Having explored this, let’s try to get around the obstacles.

    Eloquent Figures

    Statistics show that Americans spend up to 26 percent of their drug purchases on drugs with questionable, unproven efficacy. And that’s not a small number. Why does this happen? First, because such drugs are widely available on the market. Secondly, because many of us self-medicate and prefer not to see a doctor, but to seek advice from pharmacists who may offer to buy not drugs, but commercially attractive substitutes – dietary supplements.

    Important nuances

    It is not easy to navigate in the sea of modern pharmacy products. After all, in addition to the original medications, there are copied products that are not medicines, but are registered as dietary supplements. 

    What is the difference between drugs and dietary supplements?

    The original medication, the drug, has undergone a full course of pre-clinical and clinical studies of efficacy and safety and has received the appropriate registration certificate. Nutritional supplements do not undergo efficacy and safety studies. They may even contain the same substance as the original medication, but no one regulates or requires that the active ingredient be of appropriate quality and efficacy. In addition, dietary supplements have no proven therapeutic effect, they can only contribute functionally and be nutritional supplements – not a cure.

    A questionable proposition

    But there is another serious problem: the sale by pharmacies and pharmacists of drugs that are not actually medicines. In particular, some pharmacy chains recommend buying substitutes for known medications. Some have the practice of pharmacists creating and promoting their own brands, even at the cost of refusing to sell the drug to the consumer under the pretext of “already booked.

    These are, in fact, not drugs, but dietary supplements, for which requirements regarding the cycle of research and registration before mass production is much lower, which the AMCU has already drawn attention to and launched an investigation into unfair competition. But then again, they have a price, which is unequivocally bribing. For pharmacies this practice is more profitable – higher profits. But is it profitable for patients who come for well-known drugs, but receive drugs with unproven effects? Isn’t it time to remember the saying that a stingy person pays twice?

    What are the risks of substitutes?

    First, because they are not drugs, they do not work fully – that is, they have no proven therapeutic effect.

    Secondly, without having the necessary effect, they can do harm, if not directly, then indirectly – you lose precious time, and in some cases the health consequences can be very serious.

    And thirdly, it is a loss of money. A person spends extra money without getting the desired action.

    It is important to understand what a drug is and how to distinguish it from a substitute.

    The power of the brand

    But there is good news: Americans trust brands. Including brands of pharmacy – 69% of respondents noted the influence of a brand when choosing a product, and 45% are willing to go to another pharmacy in search of the right drug. The willingness to buy brands, first of all, contributes to the proven effectiveness and a wide range of action.

    So there is no point in buying drugs about which you have the slightest doubt. Use proven medicines with a proven reputation.

    How can I check whether a manufacturer is reliable?

    You can check whether a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s activities are legal on the website of the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, USFDA – there is a registry of licenses for the production of medicines.

    Open the “Activities” section, and then the “Services” tab. Among the list of services, look for “Licensing of drug manufacturing”, an information window will appear on the right side, go to the “Registries” tab. Then you will see a link to the “Register of licenses for manufacturing of medicines”. By clicking on it, you will be able to download a table with the names of all licensees, in which you can find the pharmaceutical company you are interested in.

    How not to make a mistake when choosing a drug

    • Buy time-tested drugs of well-known brands;
    • Do not change drugs, if their positive effect on the body has already been confirmed by your own experience and the doctor has not prescribed other drugs;

    If they offer a substitution, first consult with your doctor, ask the pharmacist whether the proposed replacement is a drug or dietary supplements. Remember that only a medicine, not a dietary supplement, has a proven therapeutic effect.