Femara (Letrozole) and/or alternatives
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General Information On Femara
Femara (generic name letrozole) is often prescribed as part of hormone therapy treatments used to treat breast cancer in menopausal women. It belongs to a group of drugs known as aromatase inhibitors. Many forms of breast cancer are hormone receptive, which means that they multiply in the presence of estrogen, the female hormone. The estrogen in this case is released by the aromatase enzyme. An aromatase inhibitor works by blocking these enzymes, which leads to a decrease in estrogen levels. This helps decrease the growth of such kinds of breast cancer. Such hormone receptor-positive tumors can be controlled by using Femara.
Side Effects for Femara
Some women who buy Femara and use it complain of mild side effects such as headaches, hot flashes, sweating, joint pain, increased sweating, back pain, nausea, high cholesterol, night sweats, diarrhea, vomiting, insomnia, breast pain, muscle pain, heartburn, loss of appetite, vaginal dryness, urinary tract infections, and drowsiness. In some cases, the user may experience some serious side effects such as an increase in the size of the tumor, signs of blood clotting, and unexplained vaginal bleeding. In such potentially serious cases, the doctor should be consulted at once.
You must buy Femara only if you are in the post-menopausal phase. If you are not sure of your menopausal state or if you have just recently undergone menopause, then you can still conceive. Therefore, you must discuss contraceptive methods with your doctor. Femara can lead to low bone density, thus making patients more vulnerable to fractures. Get regular tests undertaken to measure your bone density. Also keep monitoring your cholesterol levels, as Femara can lead to an increase in cholesterol as well.
Inform your doctor in case you are suffering from osteoporosis, liver disease, or any kind of allergies. Femara can cause dizziness and drowsiness, so be careful while driving or doing any work that requires you to be alert. Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun and wear protective clothing while going outdoors. The side effects of Femara are almost predictable and go away once the treatment is stopped.
The recommended dosage for post-menopausal women is Femara 2.5 mg taken once daily. In the case of women suffering from liver damage, the dosage can be lowered. Femara can be taken with or without food. However, it is important to maintain a schedule to maintain a constant level of the drug in the blood. The dosage prescribed depends on a number of factors such as your general health and whether you have any other medical problems. Your doctor will intimate you about the course or duration of treatment.
Femara can interact with certain other medicines. Before you start the treatment, inform your doctor if there are any other prescription and non-prescription drugs you are taking. Estrogen or other hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs could decrease the effectiveness of the medicine. Oral contraceptives can also counter the effect of Femara and should not be taken during the course of treatment.
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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.