The People's Pharmacy

Joe Graedon, M.S.,and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D.

Q. I recently read about a 60-year-old man having problems after a colonoscopy. I had similar trouble with alternating diarrhea and constipation, as well as a lot of pain that the doctor called irritable bowel syndrome. I believe the suggested remedy was narcotics, in which I had no interest.

I put up with the pain and mess for about five years. Then I got a cut on my arm while I was working on a construction site. It became infected, and the doctor gave me a broad-spectrum antibiotic. The day I took the last dose of the antibiotic, my bowel problems cleared up and did not return. Apparently, I had picked up a stubborn infection from the colonoscope.

A. Your story is fascinating. Colonoscopes can sometimes be contaminated (American Journal of Infection Control, August 2015). Another possibility is that the “cleansing” of the digestive tract in preparation for the colonoscopy disrupted the balance of microbes in your digestive tract (European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, May 2016).

The impact of antibiotics on the microbes living in the digestive tract is not yet well understood (Cell, Sept. 6, 2018). Often, antibiotics kill gut microbes indiscriminately, and people sometimes have trouble re-establishing their original ecological balance. However, it sounds as though your antibiotic experience was far more positive.

Q. I really appreciate the information I get from your newsletter. From reading it, I learned about authorized generic drugs.

I began using the authorized generic of Celebrex from Greenstone about two years ago and noticed a marked difference from taking ordinary generic celecoxib.

Now, I’ve been told that Greenstone is no longer producing this authorized generic. Do you have any suggestions where I can obtain the authorized generic for Celebrex? I am looking for a 100 mg dose.

A. Greenstone is a subsidiary of Pfizer. As a result, this generic drugmaker distributes a number of authorized generic versions of Pfizer brand-name medications.

An authorized generic is one licensed by the brand-name maker. It may be manufactured in the same plant or even on the same production line as its brand-name equivalent. In any event, it is made to the exact same “recipe.” Consequently, most people report reacting to the authorized generic drug the same way they respond to its brand-name counterpart.

We have heard from many other readers that they were disappointed with some of the generic versions of celecoxib. They say they don’t get the same pain relief that they got from Celebrex.

We checked with Greenstone and learned the company still offers authorized generic celecoxib in a range of doses. Your pharmacist may have to special order them, however. You will find a lot more information about authorized generic drugs in our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines. This online resource is available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q. I had canker sores for years until I discovered Biotene toothpaste. It is formulated especially for people with dry mouth and does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate.

My gums are healthier, and I’ve had no cavities since it contains fluoride. It is more expensive, but it’s worth it not to suffer from canker sores.

A. We have heard from many readers that the foaming agent SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) can be irritating to their mouths and gums. A toothpaste without SLS, like Biotene, may be a good choice for someone like you.

(In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fla. 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.)

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