Are Generic Drugs Safe?

when you walk down the medicine while in your local supermarket looking for a headache tablet, you will see named brands such as Panadol along with several alternatives – Herron and several generic brands.

This raises two questions – firstly, are they safe, and secondly, do they work as well as big-name brands?

The answer to both questions is yes. You can be sure that they are safe simply because any type of drug is very strictly controlled by the various regulatory authorities. Companies such as Coles and Woolworths are unable to put these products up for sale until they have jumped through many hoops, in terms of the composition and manufacture of the drugs, and in fact they have had to meet the exact same conditions as products like Panadol do.

and, in fact, there is a very good chance that they are exactly the same product anyway. This is how it works – company is like Coles and Woolworths don’t actually have any manufacturing facilities  – they are all done under contract. And if you wanted someone to M headache tablets under contract, you would simply go to someone that was already making them. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now if you were Glaxo SmithKlineand you will work approached by a supermarket chain to manufacture headache tablets under contract, be easiest way to do it would be to simply supply then with V headache tablets that you were already manufacturing. In other words,if the generic brands contain 500 mg of paracetamol, just the same as the Panadol brand, and if V paracetamol is (obviously) going to be the most expensive component of the tablet, why would you bother coming up with a different formula for the supermarket chain?

Obviously, you wouldn’t. You would just repackage your own product for the supermarket chain. You wouldn’t make as much profit on these as you would on your premium brand, but you’d still make enough profit to making it worth your while.

I don’t know for a fact that this actually happens, mind you, but it is the most likely scenario.

So, because the drugs both contain the same active ingredient, they are both going to work just as well.

And, of course, the drug companies know this.that’s why when they advertise their products, they never have and authority figure telling you that their drugs work better than V generic brands – all they ever have is vox pop interviews with people on the street saying things like “oh, you know, I just trust Panadol.”

The “voice in the street” approach is meant to convince you, since it comes across as a spontaneous opinion (which it may well be), but the point is that no claims are being made about superior performance of the branded product.

So it’s clever marketing,but that’s all it is. Next time you need some headache tablets, go to Coles and by the generic brand for a third of the price of the Panadol. That way you won’t get a headache by paying too much!

How to get Grass Stains Out

Grass is soluble in acetone, so this is the way that it is removed.  Pour some acetone into a glass (don’t use plastic), and then scrunch up the garment and immerse the part of the garment containing the grass into the acetone.  You should see it begin to dissolve immediately.  Gently lift the garment out, then reinsert and so on.  Repeated dipping is of the garment in the acetone will eventually see the grass fully removed from the garment.

Since this mostly occurs in cricket whites the colour of the garment is not an issue, but if you are using a coloured garment test an inconspicuous part with the acetone for colour fastness.

Isopropanol may also be used, but it is not as aggressive a solvent as the acetone and it will take a little longer.

How to Remove Soot

Soot may be the result of an outdoor barbecue, perhaps on your pergola or brickwork; it may be from the exhaust fumes of your car on your paint work (particularly if it’s an older type diesel); or it may be on the glass door of your wood burning stove.

Whatever the cause, it is unsightly.  Luckily, it’s easy to remove, as despite its unpleasant appearance, it’s not stuck very strongly to anything.

Spray some  Oven Cleaner onto it (any one will do), leave it for a minute or so, and then wipe away with a wet rag.  Rinse and re-wet the rag and repeat until the surface no longer feels slimy.

If it’s on the inside of your stove, another option is to wet a newspaper (or rag), dip it in the ash in the bottom of your stove (which often contains unburnt minerals that can act as an abrasive cleaner) and use it to wipe the glass.

Alternatively, Ajax Powder Cleanser will also do a good job.

An Alternative Shaving Cream

So you need to have a shave but you’re out of shaving cream?

What do you do?

Well, you have a couple of options. The main function of shaving cream is to lubricate your face so that the blade can glide across your skin without shaving.

Conventional shaving creams are made up of essentially foaming surfactants and lubricating oils such as lanolin (a natural lubricating compound that comes from wool). The purpose of the foam is essentially to give it some body so that it occupies some volume on your face.

The first option you have is ordinary old soap, with a shaving brush and cup (yes, they still exist). You put the soap in the cup with some hot water, and whip it up to a lather with the shaving brush, which you then use to brush it on your face.

Soap is of course slippery, so it acts as a good lubricant, although with time it of course it has the effect of drying your skin. This is perhaps why our grandfathers had skin that looked like leather.

But there’s a better option. There is a bathroom product that is remarkably similar to shaving gel – toothpaste gel.

These products come in an aluminium can and are dispensed under low pressure when you press the actuator. It’s a thick gel, and when you rub it into your skin it readily foams up into a thick lather.

The thick gel is generated by PEGs (polyethylene glycols) and forms a highly effective smoothing raft over the skin. The additives are different, of course – the shaving foam contains lanolins, whereas toothpaste contains things for your teeth – fluorides, silicas and menthols.

But none of that matters – the toothpaste does a great job, and feels no different to shaving gel.

With one exception. The menthol in the toothpaste has a very bracing effect on your skin, almost to the effect of stinging – rather like the effect of aftershave actually. It’s a pleasant sensation, however, and leaves your skin feeling very refreshed.


Book Extract #12: Toothpastes

Toothpastes are a little like dishwashing detergents in that there is very little difference between brands, and our choice of product is determined exclusively by how well they have been marketed.

Toothpastes are essentially abrasives in a gum or glycol base with some surfactants, colouring agents, flavouring and fluoride added.  So all they are designed to do is scrub plaque and embedded food off your teeth, impart some fluoride, and make your mouth feel fresh.

And they are mostly all the same (with one exception).  There is very little difference in composition between the generic brands and the top of the line “whitening” toothpastes.

But this hasn’t always been the case.  Several years ago the “whitening” toothpastes were premium products that actually did contain a whitening agent – peroxide.  They also contained sodium bicarbonate which is an effective defence against tooth decay.

The cause of tooth decay is not well understood generally.  We hear that it is caused by “acids” and are told to avoid acidic foods. This is only partially right.  Our teeth are essentially a mineral called hydroxyapatite, which is composed of calcium phosphate.  This is a chemically stable compound and is not easily dissolved by acids, certainly not any acids in the foods that we eat.

So when we are told to avoid acidic foods like orange juice (citric acid) or Coca-Cola (phosphoric acid) or soft drinks in general (carbonic acid), we are being misled, as none of these acids are strong enough to dissolve our teeth in the few seconds that they are in contact with them.

Here’s what happens.

When we consume sugar (which is the real enemy of teeth) it combines with proteins to form glycoproteins, which is plaque.  The plaque has a strong affinity for our teeth and coats them easily.  What happens then is that the glycoproteins are degraded by anaerobic bacteria, in a process that is remarkably similar to what happens in our muscles when we exercise.

Since the plaque has coated our teeth very effectively, and is essentially nonporous, it’s an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment.  What happens then is that anaerobic bacteria degrade the glycoproteins to form lactic acid, a relatively strong organic acid.  But since it forms at the very surface of our teeth, and is held in place by the plaque, it begins dissolving the calcium phosphate that your teeth are made out of.

So there is certainly a case for having a mildly alkaline component in toothpastes that will neutralise this effect, and sodium bicarbonate fits the bill beautifully.

Incidentally, desensitising toothpastes seek to reverse this process.  They do this by including calcium and phosphate in their formula, the idea being that they will combine to form the hydroxyapatite that your teeth are made out of and rebuild the surface (covering the sensitive part that has been exposed).

In terms of whitening, peroxide is the perfect whitening agent for teeth.  Mostly present as sodium percarbonate ( which as we have seen in section 5.2 is also a laundry bleach), they get away with calling it a peroxide as it is alternately referred to as sodium carbonate peroxide, due to an unusual molecular formula which is essentially three hydrogen peroxide molecules stuck onto a sodium carbonate molecule (2Na2CO3.3H2O2).

There was a time when each off the major toothpaste manufacturers had a whitening toothpaste on the market with this formula. Several years ago, that all changed, and although they were still called “whitening” toothpastes, the baking soda and peroxide disappeared from the formulas.  This was no doubt a decision made at a marketing level, in the hope that they could make the products cheaper, and make more profit, and that no one would notice.

In other words, they are treating you like mugs.

Unfortunately, however, someone did notice – in this case, Choice Magazine, who were the first to bring it to public attention.  So now the great con has been exposed – the toothpastes with fancy packaging that include glittering letters that claim to be whitening toothpastes will do no more to whiten your teeth than the generic Coles and Woolworths brands.

And it’s only Australia.  If you Google “whitening toothpaste” you will see that the products containing bicarb and peroxide are still sold overseas.  It’s only the Australian market where they think we are dumb enough not to notice.  In fact it is the marketing people who are the dumb ones, as their attempt to con the Australian public has now been exposed.

There is one exception to this, however – an American brand called Arm & Hammer.  Curiously, this well recognised brand in the USA made their name selling products based on bicarb soda and washing soda.  Toothpaste was therefore a logical extension of their brand name, and the addition of the sodium percarbonate makes it the only serious whitening toothpaste on the market.