Cellcept (Mycophenolate Mofetil) and/or alternatives
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General Information On Cellcept
Cellcept (generic name: mycophenolate mofetil) is used to lower immunity, especially after a kidney or liver transplant. Immunity helps a body fight infections and foreign objects, but in the case of a kidney or liver transplant, your body may treat the transplanted organ as a foreign object and fight it. In such circumstances, mycophenolate mofetil is used for lowering your immunity so that your body gets used to the new organ. Your doctor will advise you to buy Cellcept with cyclosporine and a steroid, and you can buy it in the form of oral tablets, an oral suspension, and an intravenous injection.
Side Effects for Cellcept
Stomach upsets, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, nausea, constipation, gas, tremors, insomnia, and loss of appetite are some common side effects associated with Cellcept. As the drug lowers your immunity, you become more susceptible to infections, and therefore, you should watch out for night sweats, persistent fever or sore throat, painful urination, and changes in vision. Cellcept may lead to a fatal brain infection known as PML or progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in rare cases. You should inform your doctor if you encounter its symptoms, which include difficulty-speaking, seizures, difficulty moving the muscles, clumsiness, and sudden mental changes like confusion and difficulty concentrating. Some serious side effects of Cellcept may include weakness in one side of your body, mental or mood changes, swelling of the ankles or feet, easy bleeding or bruising, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat, severe tiredness, and unusual changes in the frequency or amount of urine passed. You should also inform your doctor if you notice black or tarry stools, chest pain, abdominal or stomach pain, shortness of breath, and dark colored vomit.
Before taking Cellcept, you should inform your doctor if you are suffering form a stomach or intestinal problem like ulcers, kidney or liver disease, any type of cancer, or a rare genetic disorder like Kelley Seegmiller syndrome or Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. As Cellcept may cause swelling of the gums, you should brush and floss your teeth thoroughly every day. Cellcept also increases the risk of skin cancer, so you should avoid being exposed to direct sunlight, sunlamps, and tanning booths, and use protective clothes and sunscreen when you need to go out. Do not take any vaccination or immunization without consulting your doctor, and avoid being near people who have recently taken oral polio drops. If you are to undergo a surgery or medical tests like colonoscopy, you should inform your doctor about the same as a colonoscopy may decrease the amount of mycophenolate in your body.
The dosage given to a patient depends on his/her age, the organ that has been transplanted, and his/her medical condition. Usually, the doctor will recommend you to take Cellcept 1g intravenously or orally twice a day. Children aged between 3 months to 18 years are given an oral suspension of Cellcept 600mg/m2 twice a day.
Serious drug interactions may occur if you take Cellcept with live vaccines, colestipol, cholestyramine, azathioprine, or natalizumab. Your doctor may not advise you to buy Cellcept if you are already taking antacids containing aluminum or magnesium, anti-viral medications like ganciclovir, acyclovir, or valganciclovir, rifampin, or calcium-free phosphate binders like sevelamer, lanthanum, and aluminum products.
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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.