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Are There Situations That Require Special Consideration Before Choosing a Generic? continued...

These generic drugs include:

While the FDA has not had a policy restricting the use of NTI generics, some states have laws that do. In those states, if generics are used, precautions and additional monitoring are required.

The list of restricted NTI drugs varies from state to state. The FDA does not have a list of recognized NTI drugs. The FDA is revising its policy to identify drugs that should be included on such a list and to specify whether additional precautions are needed when generics are substituted for such drugs.

Your doctor should tell you if you are taking an NTI drug and what type of monitoring you need.

Should You Be Taking Generic Medication?

Generics are not available for all medications. The best way to find out if a generic is available for a medication you are taking -- and whether or not you should take it -- is to ask your doctor and pharmacist.

Some health insurance companies require that you use a generic drug, if available. If you chose to purchase the brand-name product, you may end up paying on your own or be required to pay a larger co-pay.

Generally, your pharmacist can substitute a generic drug for a brand-name drug. If there is a generic available but for some reason your doctor thinks you should still take the brand-name drug, the doctor will indicate that on the prescription by writing "Do Not Substitute."

If your pharmacist for some reason does not substitute a generic for a brand-name drug, you can ask your doctor to indicate on the prescription that substitutions are acceptable. That way, you can get the same drug for considerably less expense.

Since generic drugs look different than a brand-name drug, it can get confusing. Don't be afraid to ask your pharmacist whether the medication you received is the generic form of the medicine you are used to taking in brand-name form. 

Make sure to tell your doctor if you notice any change in your condition or any unusual side effects when changing from a brand-name to a generic drug.

And don't forget that nonprescription drugs may also be sold as generics. You might find them under the store's in-house label, and they can also save you money.