A patient suffering from Zollinger-Ellison was treated with Nexium, but after patent expiry only the costs of generic omeprazol were reimbursed. Generic tablets and capsules, pantoprazol and rabeprazol, were tried without success and finally the pharmacist dispensed Nexium at his own expense. Registered generic drugs have been shown to be bioequivalent with the originator drug within narrow margins. When two batches of the originator are compared, the same requirements are valid. Although the subject has received a lot of negative publicity, meta-analyses on outcome comparison support generic substitution; problems associated with switching can be partially explained by the loss of trust in the treatment, and differences in appearance also cause confusion. Generic prescribing should be encouraged to keep medical treatment affordable; however, in order to prevent the problems described it is desirable to keep to the same product as far as possible. Effective education and patient information are essential if switching is to be successful.
Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.