19 posts in the category “Drug Safety”

The lowdown on generic MS medications

Posted March 6th, 2018 by

From FDA approvals to availability and safety, generic drugs are a popular topic in the PatientsLikeMe MS forum (more than 15 threads!). To help you stay in the loop about what generics are and what’s out there for MS, we checked in with our team of in-house health professionals. Here’s the scoop…

Let’s start with the basics: What are generic drugs?

According to the FDA, “a generic drug is a medication created to be the same as an existing approved brand-name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, and performance characteristics.”

So what sets the brand-name versions apart?

Generic and brand-name medications work the same way and provide the same clinical benefit. Generic medications have the same active ingredients as brand-name medications, but generics only become available after the patent expires on a first-of-its-kind (brand name) drug.

Coming soon:

  • Ampyra (dalfampridine), the only FDA-approved drug indicated to improve walking in adults with MS, is anticipated to have generic versions available sometime in summer 2018.

Currently available MS generic drugs:

  • Glatopa: Glatopa 40 mg/mL is an FDA-approved generic version of Copaxone 40 mg/mL for patients with relapsing forms of MS. Glatopa has been determined by the FDA to be therapeutically equivalent to three times-a-week Copaxone, and is a fully-substitutable medication. Glatopa is available by prescription.
  • Glatiramer acetate: 20 mg/mL (daily) and glatiramer acetate 40 mg/mL (3x weekly). These two FDA-approved injections are also generic versions of Copaxone, and can be expected to be as safe and clinically effective. Both are available by prescription.

On the horizon:

  • Gilenya‘s patent is set to expire in 2019, opening up the path to generic versions soon after.

Want to learn more about what members are saying about their experiences with generic MS medications? Join the conversation on PatientsLikeMe.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.

A PatientsLikeMe researcher’s take on the opioid crisis and new prescribing regulations

Posted January 25th, 2017 by

Meet Emily (EmilyMcNaughton), a PatientsLikeMe researcher with more than ten years of experience in both the private and public sector. She’s here to weigh in on the recent Boston Globe article addressing the aftermath of the opioid crisis. New prescribing regulations have some doctors hesitant to prescribe these drugs, but that could prove more harmful to the patients who rely on them for pain control.

Check out the Boston Globe article, and see what Emily has to say below.


A researcher’s perspective

Prescription opioid medications have been widely discussed over the past 15 years, especially with the surge of prescriptions dispensed during the 2000s, which created an epidemic of abuse and overdose-related deaths. Because the prescription-opioid landscape seems to be constantly changing, people all across the medical, public health, regulatory and pharmaceutical sectors have been working to find solutions that will still allow patients to access their prescribed pain medications while minimizing problems with abuse, misuse, death, and product diversion (when patients either share, give or sell their prescription medications, or medications are stolen).

Many would agree that it’s been helpful to increase awareness, education and open communication between doctors and patients about these medications, but some aspects of restricting the availability of prescription opioids might cause unintended harm to patients.  As this Boston Globe article highlights, many doctors are now prescribing fewer opioids than in previous years and in some cases doctors fear that these reductions may hurt patients.

With any public health problem, solutions are not always perfect and there are pros and cons to every decision. In terms of prescription opioid medication, here are some of my thoughts on public health recommendations, regulatory changes and how they might impact patients. 


  • There’s more awareness around how to appropriately use prescription opioids, the potential risks they pose and the proper prescribing practices, both within the medical community as well as patients and the public.
  • We’re seeing recommendations for increased patient-doctor communication about goals for prescription opioid use as well as alternative treatments, when appropriate.

Potential Unintended Consequences

  • There’s a growing pressure among doctors who fear there may be consequences for prescribing opioid medications.
  • There’s a possibility that difficult regulatory hurdles might deter a physician’s willingness, or even ability, to prescribe opioid medications in appropriate situations.
  • Blanket regulations that set maximum prescribing limits do not take into account the individual needs of each patient or doctor expertise.
  • Patients might have insufficient access to or may be unable to afford alternative treatments or pain medicine specialists if a physician is reluctant to prescribe opioid medications.

Other Considerations

  • Regulatory changes don’t address the issue of opioid-deaths that are caused by abuse of non-pharmaceutical products, like heroin.
  • For individuals with opioid addiction, substance abuse treatment remains complicated and is not always affordable.

What do you think about this topic?


Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.