photo by e-MagineArt.com
The following is a story from my own experience. Thank GOODNESS I was paying attention. I’m sharing so that you always remember to pay attention, too.
Jenna was prescribed Rynatan the other day to (hopefully) help clear up her congestion. It’s an antihistamine/decongestant that helps dry up the mucus before it settles in her lungs and leads to pneumonia. We’ve given it to her before and, last year, we started it at the first signs of congestion and avoided the hospital for the first year ever. We needed a new prescription, though, and the doctor said it was no problem. She’d phone in an order for the generic version. We’ve always gotten the generic version in the past. When I picked up the prescription, I first noticed that the name on the label was different. I double checked with the pharmacist, who confirmed, yes, it WAS the generic version of Rynatan.
Here’s the kicker. I ALMOST threw away the insert that comes with the med. We’ve used it before. No problems. Why keep the insert? But I decided that since it had a different name, I should read it and keep it while she’s taking it. I read it, it sounded the same, and I gave her the first dose. About four hours later, we were sitting on the couch reading and snuggling when I noticed her heart rate seemed fast, so I timed it. 135 beats a minute – resting. I went to the internet and look up “normal heart rate for a five year old” (with no fever) and find that 135 is INDEED high. I went back to the medication package insert and read the side effects. Among the many possibilities, it says that if you experience serious side effects LIKE RAPID HEART RATE, you should immediately call your doctor. So I did. We ended up back at the doctor’s office, where her heart rate had climbed to 155 – resting, and was accompanied with shortness of breath. Turns out, there are many generic versions of most drugs, each with different manufacturers. Each manufacturer might use different ingredients/fillers. You, or your child might react differently to one generic brand than you did to another, including a potentially serious allergic reaction. Never just assume that, because you took a drug in the past, it’s generic version or a new generic version will work the same for you. Pay attention to how you feel on any new medication, and ALWAYS keep the package insert while you’re taking it. Never hesitate to call your doctor (or pharmacist) if you have questions or concerns.
I don’t know about you, but I just assumed that “the generic version” would have the SAME ingredients and make-up as the original. We all know what Benny Hill said about assuming….. Well, at least people as old as I am who know who Benny Hill is. *wink*
Anyway, now YOU know what I know, and we’re all a little wiser.
P.S. We stopped the med for Jenna, and her heart and breathing rates were back in the normal range this morning. She’s still very sick. Her lungs sounded worse this morning and she has a fever of 100F. We’re hoping that the oral steroids and inhalers that we started last night will really kick in today and we avoid full blown pneumonia and a trip to the hospital.