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Valium: Is It Safe to Take the Generic Version of Valium?

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Updated December 29, 2008

Question: Valium: Is It Safe to Take the Generic Version of Valium?

A question from a reader: I have been taking 10 milligrams of Valium a day for many years to treat my anxiety disorder. Because I can no longer afford Valium and none of the Medicare insurance companies will pay for it, I have been told that I need to take a generic type of Valium.

I have asked many pharmacists about switching, they say some people have trouble when they switch, but get better after a while. Can you advise me?

Answer:

Thanks for writing and asking me about Valium and the generic version, which is known as diazepam. The generic has been used for many years and I believe that most people who get a prescription for "Valium" are getting the generic version.

I'm not sure which health insurance you have, if any, but most health plans with drug benefits do cover the cost of the generic version of Valium.

The active ingredient in the generic is exactly the same as in the brand name Valium, namely diazepam. Since many drug companies make versions of diazepam, the ingredients such as colorings, and other substances in the pill differ. This could cause a problem if you were allergic to any of these substances.

You are correct that there is a big difference in price. Recently, at a large national pharmacy, a 90-day supply of Valium cost $352.00, while a 90-day supply of the generic version, diazepam cost $15.00.

I cannot advise you what to do - that is a decision you have to make with help from your doctor. One option is to talk to your doctor and try the generic for a period of time. If it does not work, or if you have unexpected side effects, you can always switch back.

Also, there are a number of other medications that are used to treat anxiety and you may want to talk with doctor to see if any of these medications would be appropriate for you.

I would suggest that you read my article about generics and see what you think. It gives you information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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