Actigall (Ursodiol) and/or alternatives
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General Information On Actigall
Actigall is used for dissolving small gallstones in patients who cannot undergo a gallbladder surgery. Its generic name is Ursodiol, and it is a bile acid. You can buy Actigall in the form of oral tablets. It acts by dissolving cholesterol that form into gallstones and inhibiting cholesterol production in the liver and its absorption in the intestines. In this way, the formation of gallstones is curbed. This drug can also be used for increasing the flow of bile in patients suffering from primary billiary cirrhosis. Actigall cannot be effective in treating calcified gallstones.
Side Effects for Actigall
Some commonly experienced side effects of Actigall include dizziness, tiredness, back pain, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, body ache, chills, fever, headache, stuffy or runny nose, and cold symptoms. These are common side effects and should subside as you get used to the drug. Sometimes, Actigall can also lead to weakness, increased thirst or urination, swelling of the feet or ankles, easy bleeding or bruising, and signs of an infection such as persistent sore throat or fever. Under such circumstances, it would be better to seek medical help immediately.
You should discontinue taking Actigall if you develop an allergic reaction to it. Symptoms of an allergic reaction are difficulty in breathing, swollen face, tongue, throat or lips, hives and rashes.
Before you buy Actigall, you must inform your doctor if you are allergic to it or to any other bile acids. You should also not take this drug if you have a bile duct problem or certain gallbladder conditions such as acute cholecystitis, biliary obstruction, cholangitis, biliary-gastrointestinal fistula, or gallstone pancreatitis. You should also inform your doctor if you have a personal or family history of liver disease, variceal bleeding, ascites, or hepatic encephalopathy. As Actigall causes dizziness, you should limit your alcohol intake and should not perform any activity that requires complete alertness, such as driving a car immediately after taking a dose. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should take this drug only if clearly indicated. This is because its safety during these conditions has not yet been established.
You will be recommended to take Actigall 13-15 mg/kg/day, divided into 2-4 doses. The tablets need to be taken with food. If you find it difficult to swallow the tablet whole, you can divide it into two halves. Dosage adjustments can be made as per your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not stop taking Actigall or increase or decrease the dosage without consulting your doctor. Actigall comes in Actigall 300mg tablets.
Before taking Actigall, you should inform your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medicines you are taking at present. If you are already taking colestipol, cholestyramine, antacids containing aluminum, or estrogens such as birth control pills and hormone replacement drugs, special tests or dosage adjustments may be necessary. Colestipol and cholestyramine are bile acid sequestering agents and may interfere with the working of Actigall. Aluminum based antacids may absorb bile acids and interfere with their functioning. Estrogens, clofibrate, and oral contraceptives increase the secretion of hepatic cholesterol and encourage the formation of cholesterol gallstones. Therefore, they may counteract with the working of Actigall.
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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.