Geodon Went Generic April 24, 2012Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Medication.
For mental illness, the sequence of drugs prescribed has been as follows: Lithium is for those in an especially bad place. Then, once the crisis is averted, the patient up until now was put on risperidone, a generic form of Risperdol which went generic back in June of 2008. Geodon, at least in Washington State, has not been prescribed by doctors because up until now the name-branded drug was prohibitively expensive.
I discussed the difference between generic drugs and name-brand drugs in my article “The Cost of Generic Drugs versus Name Brands: Lamictal” back in 2009 when Lamictal went generic. That article talks about the cycle between name-brand Lamictial and generic lamotrigine. Lamotrigine is now coming in at around $21 per day, which is still obscene, but at least is less than when the drug was name-brand.
The same thing that happened to Lamictial three years ago is happening to Geodon now. But the difference is that for Lamictal, there was no alternative drug like there is for Geodon. Because generic Geodon will be prescribed more often than risperidone (now that the price has dropped), the difference in care will be enormous.
In terms of side effects, the worst drug of the three is clearly lithium. Although it has been used for years, the side effects are tremendous, which is why people don’t want to stay on it. For me, the side effects included something along the lines of a faux Parkinson’s, including losing my muscle control and gaining weight, as well as feeling groggy and lethargic and unable to think clearly. Sometimes these side effects are permanent. That is one of the reasons I would have chosen unmedicated mental illness rather than long-term lithium use had lithium been my only choice.
Risperidone has fewer side effects than lithium, but it’s far from a perfect drug. Weight gain and fuzzy thinking and reasoning are two reasons I didn’t like risperidone. Geodon is a much better drug because it has fewer side effects. The difference in quality of life between Geodon and risperidone (generic Risperdol) can’t be emphasized enough. With Geodon, a person will be much higher functioning. Geodon will be the difference between being able to hold down a job and having to stay on public assistance because mentally ill people function at a lower level on Risperdone than they do on Geodon. People on risperidone will have more health problems because of the tendency of Risperdone to cause weight gain. And there are those who prefer unmedicated mental illness to weight gain, so they don’t take their medication. I have met people who have gained fifty and one hundred pounds on risperdidone, in addition to having low or no libido and fuzzy thinking. The additional weight, of course, contributes to poorer health and quality of life.
The interesting thing about Geodon is that after the drug went generic, the price for name-brand Geodon dropped significantly. It went from $34 a day for the name-brand drug in January 2012 (when there was no competition) to $125 per month now ($4.20 per day). The price for the generic form is significantly less at $.50 per day. This turn of events, going from brand name to generic, is obscene, and I won’t discuss it here.
The positive impact on quality of life will be significant for the person now able to take the generic form of Geodon because the price has dropped so much. People’s health will improve in part because Geodon acts as an appetite suppressant (for me), causing me to actually lose weight as opposed to risperidone (that caused me to gain weight). In addition, Geodon allowed me to reason and think better than risperidone, and now that the cost is so much less, people with terrible or non-existent insurance (and those on public assistance) will have the benefits of this now-generic drug. Doctors who treat those on public assistance will now have the ability to prescribe this drug for their public assistance patients, which will cause those patients to become higher-functioning, possibly even able to hold down a job and get off public assistance.
I know it will change people’s lives for the better, and I am thrilled that it is now affordable for the vast number of Americans.