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Am J Kidney Dis. 1999 Feb;33(2):389-97.

Drug substitution in transplantation: a National Kidney Foundation White Paper.

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  • 1Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, USA.


Specific safeguards to guide the approval process and substitution practices for generic immunosuppressive agents are necessary for the effective delivery of patient care. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires the demonstration of bioequivalence of generic drugs to innovator drugs in normal healthy subjects, a criterion that may be insufficient for critical-dose drugs. For generic equivalents of critical-dose drugs and for innovator critical-dose drugs, there should be a requirement for replicate studies measuring intrasubject variability and subject-treatment interactions to establish that bioequivalence holds true. Extensive testing of generic drugs in all target patient types is impractical and should not be required. However, when evidence suggests that the bioavailability of a critical-dose drug may vary substantially in certain subgroups, the FDA should require a demonstration of bioequivalence of generic versions to innovator products in these representative target populations. Changes in the approval process for generics should be accompanied by more consistent substitution practices. Pharmacists should notify the prescribing physician and patient whenever a critical-dose drug (generic or brand name) is dispensed in a different formulation from the one the patient has been taking. Therapeutic substitution for such drugs should not be made unless the prescribing physician has granted approval. The health care provider should consider instituting appropriate monitoring whenever patients are switched between generic formulations or between innovator drugs and generic formulations. Patients should be well informed about generic substitutes so that they can participate in treatment choices.

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