Isentress (Raltegravir) and/or alternatives
No Generic Alternative.
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General Information On Isentress
Isentress, or Raltegravir (generic name), is an antiretroviral drug used in the treatment of HIV infection in adult patients. Raltegravir belongs to a group of drugs called Integrase Inhibitors. This class of drugs prevents the HIV virus from multiplying and spreading in the body. Isentress must be used in combination with other anti-HIV medicines to increase the efficacy of treatment. This drug is mainly used in patients who are resistant to other HIV therapies, or when other antiretroviral medicines fail to provide any significant relief.
Isentress boosts the immune system and lowers the risk of acquiring serious infections such as LRTI or developing cancer. The drug can prevent certain complications associated with HIV. However, it is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. HIV patients must take other medications, as well as STD preventive measures, while using Isentress.
Side Effects for Isentress
First-time users or patients with advanced HIV infection can experience mild to moderate side effects while taking Isentress. These side effects include skin problems, vision problems, headache, cough, or breathing problems. Severe or life threatening allergic reaction to this medicine is a rare occurrence. However, if you feel even the slightest discomfort like dizziness, itching, difficulty breathing, and skin rashes, you must immediately contact your doctor. Some other rare but possible side effects of Raltegravir include extreme tiredness, muscle weakness, dark urine, persistent and severe abdominal discomfort, and flu-like symptoms. While most people may be able to take Isentress very well, the occurrence of any side effect or symptom in a patient should be promptly conveyed to the health practitioner.
Like most other oral medications, Isentress also contains some inactive ingredients that may trigger an allergic reaction. Before you buy Isentress, inform your doctor about all the allergies that you might have. Do not alter the dosage of Raltegravir without consulting your doctor. Altering Raltegravir dosage on your own can result in serious health problems. The medication is not approved for HIV-positive children. Use of Isentress during pregnancy is advisable only if the benefits outweigh the risks. It is not known whether Raltegravir passes into breast milk. To prevent transmission of the HIV virus, it is recommended that HIV-positive mothers do not breast-feed.
The starting dosage recommended for treating HIV and AIDS in adults is Isentress 400 mg, which is to be taken twice a day. Isentress is available in tablet form and can be taken with or without food. For people taking Rifadin, the recommended dosage is Isentress 800 mg, which is to be taken twice a day. To get the best results, constant plasma levels need to be maintained. Missing doses in between or abrupt cessation of the therapy can create resistance against the HIV drug, making the treatment more difficult and complex. Take the medicine exactly as prescribed and preferably at the same time every day.
Isentress is known to interact with many other drugs. Some of these medications include Atazanavir, Phenytoin, and Phenobarbital. While Raltegravir is indicated for use with other anti-HIV medications, consult your doctor before taking any other medications, including anti-HIV drugs other than Isentress. To prevent any unwanted interactions, your doctor may decide to alter the dosage of Raltegravir or other medications that you are taking.
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What is a "Generic" medication/drug?
Generic drugs are medications that have comparable medicinal ingredients as the original brand name drug, but which are generally cheaper in price. Nearly 1 in 3 drugs dispensed are "generic". They undergo testing to ensure that they are similar to their "brand" counterparts in:
- Active Ingredient (e.g. "Pravastatin" is the active ingredient in brand name Pravachol)
- Dosage (e.g. 10 mg of the active ingredient)
- Safety (e.g. same or similar side effects, drug interactions)
- Performance (e.g. 10 mg of a "generic" can be substituted for 10 mg of the "brand" and have the same therapeutic result)
- Intended use (e.g. both "generic" and "brand" would be prescribed for the same conditions)
What this means is that "generic" medications can be used as a substitute of their brand equivalents with the comparable therapeutic results. There are a few exceptions (examples are outlined at the end of this page) and as always you should consult your physician before switching from a brand name medications to a generic or vice versa.
What differences are there between generic and brand?
While generics and brand equivalent drugs contain the same active ingredients, they may be different in the following ways:
- Appearance (e.g. the scoring or markings)
The color, shape and size of the medication come from the fillers that are added to the active ingredients to make the drug. These fillers that are added to the drug have no medical use and do not to change the effectiveness of the final product. A generic drug must contain comparable active ingredients and must have a comparable strength and dosage as the original brand name equivalent. Generic drugs can be more cost effective than purchasing the brand name.
Why do generics cost less than the brand name equivalents?
When a new drug is "invented", the company that discovered it has a patent on it that gives them the exclusive production rights for this medication. Once the patent expires in a country, other companies can bring the product to market under their own name. This patent prevents other companies from copying the drug during that time so they can earn back their Research and Development costs through being the exclusive supplier of the product. After the patent expires however, other companies can develop a "generic" version of the product. These versions generally are offered at much lower prices because the companies do not have the same development costs as the original company who developed the medication.
The main thing to realize here though is that the two products are therapeutically equivalent. They may look different, and be called something different.
How are Generic drugs tested to ensure quality and efficacy?
Generally speaking, the two most generally accepted methods to prove the safety of a generic version of a drug are to either repeat most of the chemistry, animal and human studies originally done, or to show that the drug performs comparably with the original brand name drug. This second option is called a "comparative bioavailability" study. During this type of study, volunteers are given the original drug, and then separately later the generic drug. The rates at which the drug is delivered to the patient (into their blood stream or otherwise absorbed) are measured to ensure they are the same. Because the same active ingredient is used the major concern is just that it delivers the common chemical(s) at the same rate so that they have the same effect. Please note that the methods that the manufacturers use may vary from country to country.