By +Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room
Last November the patent for Aricept expired.
This allowed generic manufacturers of Donepezil to entire the market and compete for business. Whenever the patent for a drug expires, prices usually fall slowly in the first six months and then dramatically there after.
See these updates.
Generic Donepezil, Aricept, $27 for 90 days (This is not an Advertisement)
Donepezil (Aricept) Price Falls by 90 Percent
You can now buy 90 tablets of Donepezil for $27.22. Prior to the expiration of the Aricept patent it is likely that your were paying around $800 for a 90 day supply.
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Let me add some full disclosure.
I am not a doctor and a I am not a scientist. I am an Alzheimer's caregiver. As a result, everything you are reading in this article is for informational purposes only. You must make your own decision when purchasing medications. In addition, I am not in anyway affiliated with or am I being compensated in any way by Costco or any manufacturer of generic Aricept. I own a Costco membership card which I paid for myself.
All generic medications undergo tests by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These tests are done to determine if the generics are equivalent to the brand-name medications. They are then given a rating. An "AB" rating means that the FDA has determined that a generic medication is equivalent to a brand-name medication. However, generic versions are allowed to contain different inactive ingredients, which could cause problems for people with certain sensitivities.
The FDA has given the generic versions of Aricept an "AB" rating, which means they are considered equivalent to brand-name Aricept.
So the first layer of protection come from the FDA.
Costco is currently selling the generic, Donepezil, that is being manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals. You have a second layer of protection in this sense, if Costco were receiving complaints about any product they are selling they would be forced to take action.
Under confidentially, I asked several neurologists and scientists around the country about potential problems with generic Aricept. It is my understand that the formula for Aricept is not "complex". Not so hard to copy. This explains in part why there are several companies that sought and gained approval to manufacture a generic alternative to Aricept from the FDA.
I also asked if anyone was seeing a problem with the Teva formula of Donepezil. I did not hear of any problems with patients that are on this medication. However, this should not be considered to be a sceintific study on my part. I only asked a few people.
Yesterday, I called Walmart in Delray Beach. I asked for a price on a 30 day and 90 day supply for the generic alternative to Aricept. I was shocked when the woman on the phone told me $243.54 for a thirty day supply, and $687.08 for a 90 day supply. I asked if they were offering any other alternative, she said no. I then asked for the name of the manufacturer and she said, Ranbaxy.
Please Note the Following.
If you are on Medicare, many times when you purchase a medication you pay nothing or a small co-pay. Most people are under the illusion that this is the cost that is credited to their Medicare account. The is far from the truth. You might make a co-pay like $42, but the actual retail cost of the medication being billed to Medicare could be something like $217.99. This is exactly what happens to Dotty for a 30 day supply of Namenda from Costco.
What you want to know when you purchase a drug is what you pay, and what your plan pays (in this example Medicare), this is the cost being applied to the Medicare Donut hole. You reach the Medicare Donut hole in 2011, when you and the plan together spend $2,840. You might think you are paying $42 for a drug when in fact its contribution to your Medicare drug coverage is much more.
You may or may not reach the Medicare Donut hole this year. If not, as soon as your start taking a high priced medication you can get there very quickly.
We have never had a problem with a generic alternative medications. However, there can be complications so you need to be vigilante and diligent.
You might also consider sharing this in support groups, or via email with others.
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Full Disclosure: I am not affiliated with, nor am I receiving any compensation, from Costco or any pharmaceutical company at this time. I am not a doctor. The information above is for informational purposes only. You should do your own due diligence and consult with your doctor(s) and pharmacist before making any decisions based on this information.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room