Switching to Enalapril, the Generic Version of Vasotec

A question from a reader: Hello Dr. Mike, I have a question regarding a medication my mother is taking.

She is 74 years old and has been taking the brand name medication Vasotec for her high blood pressure for about 10 years. Due to a change in her Medicare drug plan, her pharmacist is trying to give her the generic form of the medication.

Is it safe for my mother to change to the generic form of Vasotec after all this time? She is hesitant to change from the brand name form to the generic form since the brand name is working very well for her.

I get a lot of questions from readers about switching from a brand name medication to the generic version and I understand your mother's concern.

Vasotec has been "off-patent" since 2000, which means that companies can manufacture and sell enalapril, the generic version of the medication.

Enalapril is a widely used generic and is considered safe and effective. The active ingredient in the generic and brand name versions is the same -- the generic and brand name versions differ in their inactive ingredients, such as fillers and coloring.

Usually, when a generic medication is not working well or may be causing unwanted side effects, there is a lot of "buzz" on the Internet and complaints to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This has happened with generic versions of some medications used to treat low thyroid, epilepsy, and anxiety. I could not find anything significant relating to problems with enalapril.

On a personal note, my wife and I have hypertension and we both use generics. My wife is on generic medication similar to enalapril. We have not had any problems and have saved money by using them.

Take a look at Are Generic Drugs Safe and Effective?, which has more details about generic medications.

If your mother continues to be concerned about making the switch, she should discuss the issue with her physician.

In my writing, I often recommend that people switch to generic medications if they are having a problem paying for their brand name prescription medications. Many older people who have joined a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan reach the coverage gap, or donut hole, the period in which they have to pay for 100% of their drug costs. Switching to generics may help ease their financial burden or actually help prevent getting to the donut hole.

More Information About Medicare Part D:

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