Imagine having to take a certain medication for a disease you were born with and them bam! It’s suddenly discontinued. And worse yet, imagine not being told by your medical health professional or the pharmacist. For all of you women who are on Demulen for Polycystic Ovarian Disease or Late-Onset Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia – or even for birth control – then be aware: Demulen was actually discontinued in 2006.
Demulen used to be manufactured by Searle – the original company who created the drug, had the patent for this medication and happily sold it without any competition for ten years; but with modern times, comes modern takeovers, so Searle was bought out by Pfizer.
However, this acquisition – which took place in 2002 – did not affect the production of Demulen. No, Demulen continued to be made until the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, decided that selling this brand name drug just wasn’t worth the money anymore since the generic version, Zovia, was outselling Demulen. And why wouldn’t it when consumers could get the same drug with the same exact ingredients (ethynodiol diacetate and ethinyl estradiol) for a much lower price? So after their patent ran out, and the competition went wild, Demulen was no longer a money maker for Pfizer; and consequently Demulen went by the way side.
But as a patient who has relied on Demulen for ten years, did I know that Demulen was actually discontinued in 2006? No, and it enrages me that I was not informed by any gynecologist or pharmacy. And I’m beginning to think they that, too, did not know.
I was doing some research on Demulen – because it was time for my annual gynecological visit , where I get my yearly supply to help control my symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Disease – so I wanted to compare prices of brand versus generic; and to my surprise I read something by Kristi Monson, from PharmD (ww.pharmd.com,) that suggested Demulen was discontinued. I challenged PharmD telling them that I was still receiving prescriptions for Demulen and then realized that for the past couple of years, I’ve actually been getting the generic version, Zovia.
So I did some research and contacted Pfizer to find out indeed if Demulen has been discontinued or not. On their web site they do not list Demulen as one of their products, so that was a big red flag. After speaking with Pfizer, I must say they have excellent customer service. Not only that, they actually connected me to someone who knew what I was talking about – a rarity in today’s consumer world. The representative at Pfizer told me that Demulen was discontinued in 2006 and that the generic version was still available from Watson Pharmaceuticals. The representative confirmed that it was a cost issue due to the availability of the generic version.
So I decided to let others know and posted a message on Soul Cysters – a web site for women with PCO – informing women that they can no longer obtain Demulen, and surprisingly a woman responded that her doctor just wrote her a prescription for Demulen and didn’t mention that it was discontinued under the brand name. Demulen is still being prescribed today and that’s what worries me. Where are these drugs coming from if they’re blatantly expired? Are they being produced illegally from Mexico and then having the the Demulen label slapped on them? Or do pharmacists just know that when a doctor writes a prescription for Demulen that they really meant to write the rx for the generic version, Zovia? Or is everyone in the dark about this medication being off the market?
I saw another web site that states Demulen has been discontinued in the US as well (visit here) but it only refers to the Demulen 1/50, not the Demulen 1/35. And what’s more surprising is that Demulen information is still listed on current medical sites like the University of Maryland Medical Center, yet there is no mention that it has been discontinued.
I was at the gynecologist yesterday as a matter of fact, and she tried to tell me over and over again how the brand name, Demulen, was better than the generic; which leads me to believe that she, too, is ignorant of the facts about Demulen being discontinued – not to mention the ignorance of thinking a brand drug is better than a generic one when they contain the same active ingredients at the same strength.
If you’re on any brand medication, look up the manufacturer and confirm it is still being made by them. And as consumers, it is up to us to do our own research and not rely on our doctors or pharmacists; it’s a sad world we live in when we can’t even trust those we rely on most.