Today, a woman came to the pharmacy and picked up her prescription for Toprol XL 50mg. Recently, Toprol XL went generic, so in the name of saving our customers money, we've been dispensing said generic.
No more than 20 seconds after walking away from the counter, the woman came right back. "I usually get Toprol XL. What is this Metoprolol XL?"
Me: "Toprol XL just went generic within the past week or so. Metoprolol XL is the generic for Toprol XL."
Lady: "Who authorized switching to the generic?"
Me: "Generally, once a generic becomes available, we automatically substitute unless the doctor or patient requests otherwise. Generics are exactly the same as the brand medication. The only difference is that they're less expensive."
Lady: "Well, my doctor wrote the prescription for Toprol XL, and he said that even if the medication is the same, generics can have different fillers. I've always gotten the brand, and I want to stick with it."
Me: "Before you make that decision, let me show you something."
This is where I thought I was going to completely blow her mind. I ran back to the shelves, picked out a bottle of Toprol XL 50mg and a bottle of Metoprolol XL 50mg, and ran right back to the counter.
Me: "Here's a bottle of Toprol XL. You can see that it is made by AstraZeneca. Now, here's a bottle of Metoprolol XL. Look, it's also made by AstraZeneca. The company that makes Toprol XL is the one making the generic for it. This isn't almost exactly the same medication. It is the EXACT SAME medication. They just took their Toprol XL and threw a different label on the bottle."
Lady: "I've always gotten Toprol though, and that's what I want."
I was just completely shocked. I didn't even know what else to say to her, so I just took back the bottle and gave her the brand name, which amazingly only cost her $9.20 more, which is still ridiculous considering it's EXACTLY THE SAME.
I'm still utterly confused by it all. Why on earth would someone pay more money for exactly the same thing. The only difference is the freaking label on the bottle (and the tablet looks slightly different because it's not scored). What did this woman think, that AstraZeneca would waste time and money coming up with a different formula to make a generic version of their own drug???
Now, I know that I just wrote an entry about how customers cannot be expected to know very much about medications, and they can't be expected to understand that generics work just as well as brand drugs. However, when I show someone that their "new generic" is made by the same company that makes their trusted brand, and she still doesn't believe they work the same, I have to chalk that up to personal stupidity on her part. What else can it be? It's completely asinine.