Are Generic Drugs Safe For Cats? Dr. Plotnick Elaborates

Some of you may have seen the recent web article on generic drugs for cats, and whether they're safe for cats. In my practice, I tend to prescribe generic drugs when I can, for several reasons. I really do think that most generic drugs work just as well as brand name drugs. The generics are cheaper, and it allows me to pass on the savings to my clients. Here are a few paragraphs from the original article:

       “When you buy the brand, you buy the fancy packaging,” says Arnold Plotnick, DVM, a board-certified feline specialist in New York City. He says generic drugs work perfectly on both cats and humans. Two key points to remember are:

A generic drug is the same as the brand-name version. It must be bio-equivalent to the original, meaning that the active ingredients are identical. It also has to have the same strength and address the same symptoms. Additionally, generic drugs should be metabolized by the body in a similar way.

A human drug can be approved for use in pets, providing owners with generic medication options. To market a human drug specifically for cats, a company must file a “new drug” application through the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. The ingredients and manufacturing process are tested, just as they were during the original testing of the human drug. Dosages may then change to match a cat’s needs.

A generic drug made for a human might not go down so well with a stubborn cat. The few generics on the market specifically for cats are often flavored or coated to help cats swallow them. But because the majority of drugs that veterinarians use are of the human variety -- be they generic or brand name -- they’re often bitter to a cat. Dr. Plotnick often chops or grinds the pills to make them somewhat palatable for kitty. “I’ll make it up as a liquid so I can squirt it into the cat’s mouth,” he says. “Since I know the generic works, I don’t have any fear of it not being effective.”

I know from my own personal experience that generic drugs are effective. I've taken Ambien for insomnia (I'm a terrible sleeper), and I've taken the generic, and both work perfectly fine. I take generic ibuprofen when I'm at work (we have a bottle of it in our "human medicine" section), and I take Advil when at home (the spouse bought a big bottle of it recently). No difference. All you're paying for the packaging, I believe.

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