Not All Concerta Generics Are Created Equal


I write this post in bitterness, dear readers. Today, I discovered my pharmacy (Walgreens) switched which generic form of Concerta they offer their customers. I did not realize this until after I had brought it home. Because it is a controlled substance, I cannot get a new prescription to get the right kind of generic form of Concerta. I am stuck with a less effective medication for a month. Needless to say, I am not happy (he said withholding the word he really wanted to say).

Wait, What’s the Big Deal? Aren’t Generics the Same Thing?

You would think all generics are the same as the brand name, but they are not. Generics sometimes have a slightly different chemical composition than the name-brand medication. In most cases, that is fine; it will work basically the same. However, with Concerta, that is not the case. There are approved generics of Concerta available. However, only the “authorized generic” is the same. If it is described as a “true generic,” it is not, in fact, a true generic. You see, Concerta has a unique “osmotic-controlled release oral delivery system” (OROS). Some generics have an “osmotic” release, but that is not the same as OROS. It appears that the release system has an effect on how effective it is.

Some generics have been downgraded by the FDA and might have their approval withdrawn all together. This is not just a United States problem. Other countries (The Netherlands, for example) have experienced this problem as well.

In short, you need the OROS (if you are taking Concerta).

How Do I Know If I Have the Right Form of Concerta?

There is an easy way to tell. It should say “alza” on the pill. If it does not, you do not have the brand name or the authorized generic. The authorized generic is called that because the manufacturer has struck an agreement with the company (ALZA Corporation) who makes brand-name Concerta to buy Concerta in bulk and to repackage and sell as a generic form of Concerta.

NOTE: The law does not allow (at least it does not for me in South Dakota) you to return stimulant medication once you have paid for it. Therefore, it would behoove you to ensure that you have the right pills before shelling out the money to pay for it. This might require some self-advocacy for yourself in conversations with your doctor and/or pharmacist.

NOTE: Many pharmacies, especially chains, do not carry the brand-name or authorized generic of Concerta anymore. Check with your pharmacist before your doctor writes your prescription.

Have More Questions?

I am not a doctor, and I am summarizing the research I have done this afternoon. If you would like a more in-depth article on this topic, read THIS from Gina Perry of the ADHD Rollercoaster. That article is the bomb. If there is a contradiction between my article and Perry’s, believe Perry. She has researched this FAR more than I have.

Today’s Reset ADHD Challenge:

Take an active role in your medication refill process!