The issue of generic HRT comes up a lot. Due to the sometimes high costs of brand name HRT, women want to know; does it work the same? Good question. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple yes or no answer. So let’s break it down a little bit more.
Insurance companies and pharmacies are happy to tell you that the generic is the same exact medication as the brand name, and in that sense they are not wrong. The FDA requires that generic medications contain the exact same ACTIVE ingredient as the brand name. But what can sometimes be different is all the inactive ingredients, or the delivery method.
Take for instance the patches, all of them deliver the bioidentical hormone, 17-B estradiol; however, since the generic patches can’t steal the brand name’s individual delivery method of adhesive, they are forced to come up with their own. Many ladies complain that the generic patches are thicker, larger, or don’t stick as well. And we know that getting a hormone patch to stick well and deliver efficiently is the most important aspect of using an HRT.
The same thing goes for oral estrogens. The oral estrogen, Estrace, delivers the same bioidentical 17-B estradiol, but the makeup of inactive ingredients that makes the pill is patented and locked down. The generics’ inert ingredients will be different, and the coloring, or the binders and fillers that keep the pill together, will vary. This will inevitably change how the pill breaks down in the system, and some women with allergies to certain ingredients or dyes can find they are having reactions to one type of generic pill or another. This will also change how soft or hard the pill is, and how easily and cleanly the pill can be cut or split.
So, does that mean that the generic will be ok for you to use? That depends entirely on how your body responds. Some women find the off brand does an adequate job of delivering the hormone properly to their systems, and some notice a drastic difference. All you can do is try it out and see how it goes. But if you find yourself not doing well on a generic HRT, then giving the brand name HRT a chance could produce some beneficial change for you.