Prograf (Tacrolimus) and/or alternatives
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General Information On Prograf
Prograf or Tacrolimus belongs to the category of immunosuppressants that weaken your immune system so that it does not reject a heart, kidney or liver transplant. Your body’s immune system helps you fight infections and foreign bodies, but if you have just received a new kidney, heart or liver, then your immune system may also cause your body to reject it. Therefore, your immune system is weakened for a time so that your body gets used to the new organ, and after that, you can go back to your normal life. You can buy Prograf in both oral and injection forms as advised by your doctor.
Side Effects for Prograf
The major side effect of Prograf is that it weakens your immune system and you become susceptible to more diseases, infections and illnesses. It may also lead to increased risks of cancer, including lymphoma and skin cancer. In order to reduce the risks of any serious side effects, you should take the lowest dose of the drug as advised by your doctor and not miss any medical or laboratory appointments. You need to contact your doctor immediately if you are noticing a change in the size or appearance of your body’s moles, night sweats, swollen glands, unusual lumps or growth on your body, unusual skin changes, signs of infections like sore throat and fever, sudden weight loss, and loss of appetite. Some common side effects of the drug include diarrhea, headache, trouble sleeping, dizziness, and frequent urination. These symptoms will diminish gradually as your body gets used to the drug.
While you are taking Prograf, you should avoid being exposed to direct sunlight or any artificial UV rays like tanning beds and sunlamps. If you have to go out in the sun, then use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 and also wear protective clothes and sunglasses. Prograf can dangerously interact with grapefruit or its juice, and therefore, you should not take it unless your physician has allowed you to do so. You should also not buy Prograf if you are suffering from liver or kidney diseases, high blood pressure, or if you have used Neoral, Gengraf or Sandimmune within the last 24 hours.
Prograf injection is given to a patient right after the organ transplant until he/she is ready to take the pill form of the medicine. You will initially be given Prograf 0.01mg/kg/day for a heart transplant and Prograf 0.03-0.05mg/kg/day for a liver or kidney transplant. After 2-3 days of the transplant, when the patient is able to take oral medicines, he/she is given Progarf 0.10-0.15mg/kg/day divided into two doses every 12 hours, and then, the dosage is increased or decreased depending on your response to the transplant, drug, and your individual medical condition.
Prograf should not be used with Cyclosporine or Ziprasidone, as they may dangerously interact with the drug. When taken in combination with Pimozide, Guanidine, Procainamide, Amiodarone, Dofetilide, Sotalol and macrolide antibiotics, Prograf may affect your heart rhythm, so talk to your doctor before taking any of these drugs. Other medicines that may interact with Progaf include anti-seizure medicines, liver enzyme drugs, calcium channel blockers, protease inhibitors, Rifamycins, drugs that increase potassium levels, drugs that affect the kidneys, potassium supplements, ACE inhibitors, and proton pump inhibitors.
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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.