Switching to the generic prescription could be dangerous

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PHOENIX - It's called switching. Your doctor prescribes one medication but you end up with something else.

Medical experts 3 On Your Side talked to for this story say because of the economy, switching is on the rise.

And while you might be getting a medication that is less expensive, doctors say you need to be careful.

When Michelle Lane was 13, she was diagnosed with epilepsy.

It's a condition she is able to manage, with a careful combination of prescriptions.

"You have to take what physician prescribes and for a reason," she said.

And that's why Michelle was so upset when she found out that her pharmacist had switched her medication, from the prescribed brand name to generic. Michelle said it happened to her twice.

"I was so angry that they could switch without me having any knowledge," she said.

Doctor Richard Dolinar is outspoken in his criticism of what's called switching, the dispensing of a less-expensive alternative or generic medication.

According to Dr. Dolinar switching is commonly practiced by insurance companies looking to boost their bottom line

Dolinar encourages patients to be their own best advocate, to ask questions and to look closely at the way the prescription is filled out

Michelle now checks and double checks her prescriptions before leaving the pharmacy.

To make sure what's in the bottle is in fact what her doctor ordered.

"It's not okay for one to be switching month to month and not okay for the insurance company or pharmacy to be making that decision," she said.

There's a push right now here in Arizona to enact a health insurer code of conduct.

Supporters like Dr. Dolinar say we need to have more transparency in our health care system.

For more information on the national-health insurer code of conduct go to

5 Questions For Your Pharmacist:

-Is this the exact drug that my doctor ordered?

-If it isn't, why was I switched?

-If you are switching me, have you notified my doctor?

-Will this switch impact my health?

-With this switch is there a difference in the dosing?

-Did you know there might be a problem with your generic prescription? A Valley doctor joins us live to answer your prescription questions.