Protopic Ointment (Tacrolimus) and/or alternatives
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General Information on Protopic Ointment
Protopic Ointment is indicated to patients suffering from severe atopic dermatitis or eczema. It is a skin condition which involves itchy rash leading to redness, scaling, and sores. The generic name of the drug is Tacrolimus and it belongs to the class of topical macrolide immunosuppressants. You can buy Protopic Ointment in the form of 10gm and 30gm tubes. It works by curbing the immune reaction of the skin, leading to a reduction in the allergy and the alleviation of eczema. The ointment can be used in patients more than 2 years old only if other eczema medications have failed to treat the condition.
Side Effects for Protopic Ointment
Some of the mild side effects of Protopic Ointment include mild itching, stinging, redness and burning, acne, headache, increased sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures, and symptoms of flu or cold such as sneezing, stuffy nose and sore throat. Most of these side effects can be easily managed and diminish on their own within a few days. However, if any of these become intolerable, you should seek medical help. If you are experiencing severe burning, itching, stinging or soreness, or if you have developed signs of a new skin infection such as redness, itching, oozing or swelling, you should immediately stop using Protopic Ointment and seek contact your doctor. You should also look out for swollen glands or ‘crushing’ around the hair follicles.
An allergic reaction to Protopic Ointment can be identified by swelling or itching of the face, throat, tongue or lips, difficulty breathing, hives, or severe dizziness. If you experience any of these, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Before your doctor asks you to buy Protopic Ointment, you should inform him/her if you are suffering from a skin infection such as chickenpox or herpes or skin cancer. You should also tell him/her if you have weak immunity, Netherton’s syndrome, a kidney disease, or redness, swelling, or irritation over a large area of your skin. As the drug lowers your blood cell count and weakens your immunity, you become more susceptible to infections like herpes or chickenpox. Therefore, you should try to stay away from people suffering from these conditions. If you get exposed to such illnesses, you should immediately seek help from your doctor.
If you are pregnant, you should use Protopic Ointment only if required. This is because its safety during pregnancy has not yet been established. If you are breastfeeding a baby, you must know that this drug can pass into your breast milk and harm your nursing baby. Therefore, you should use this ointment only after discussing the risks and benefits involved.
Protopic Ointment Dosage
Protopic Ointment is present in 0.03% and 0.1% concentrations. Protopic Ointment 0.1% is meant for adults, and Protopic Ointment 0.03% is meant for children. You may be advised to apply a thin layer of the medicine on the affected area twice a day. You will notice the benefits after around one week of using the ointment.
Your doctor will not advise you to use Protopic Ointment if you are using HIV/AIDS medicines such as ritonavir or saquinavir, blood pressure or heart medications such as felodipine or verapamil, anti-fungal medications such as itraconazole or voriconazole, antidepressants such as nefazodone and antibiotics such as telithromycin or erythromycin. You should also inform your doctor if you take drugs like imatinib, isoniazid, or conivaptan.
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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.