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People’s Pharmacy: Generic Celebrex leaves patients in pain

Q. I have been using Celebrex for osteoarthritis, and it has worked well for me for many years.

The pharmacy substituted generic celecoxib.

After only four days, I am in a lot of pain, especially in my spine. I would gladly pay for the real thing.

A. You are not the only one to complain about celecoxib. Dozens of people have written to us saying that the generic does not provide the same pain relief as brand-name Celebrex.

You might be able to get some assistance from your physician, as this couple did:

“My husband had been on Celebrex for almost 20 years. When the pharmacy switched to generic, I did not realize it at first.

“My husband’s hand swelled so much that a couple of his fingers tripled in size. He also had a lot of problems with knee-joint pain flaring up, as well as stomachache.

“When I realized he was on the generic, we asked his doctor to write a new prescription with no substitutions.

“He wrote a letter to our insurance company saying my husband was allergic to something in the generic, so now the insurance pays for the prescription.”


Q. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer a year ago, and my doctor has recommended vitamin D supplements to boost my immune system.

Even after taking a relatively high dose of vitamin D (4,000 IU daily), my blood level is mediocre. What else can I do to raise it?

A. Try taking your vitamin D supplements with a meal that contains fat.

A recent study showed that a meal with fat increased vitamin D blood levels by around 32 percent compared with a fat-free meal (Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, February 2015).

We are sending you our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. D-23, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website:


Q. I read your article about a patient diagnosed with uncontrollable asthma who had a lung infection.

I was diagnosed with serious asthma by two pulmonologists and two infectious-disease doctors.

My physician daughter insisted that I see a pulmonologist from another center. I did and was diagnosed with a mycobacterium infection.

Then I found my old CT scans online and discovered the diagnosis had been mycobacterium infection all along.

It took two years on three antibiotics to clear the infection, but now all my symptoms have cleared up, and I am healthy.

A. Hard-to-treat asthma has been linked to chronic lung infections such as Mycobacterium or C. pneumoniae.

Such infections sometimes require prolonged antibiotic therapy to wipe out the microorganisms triggering the inflammatory response.

The difficulty you had obtaining a diagnosis demonstrates why a second opinion can be so valuable.


Q. I have been suffering with constipation for more than a year. I chalked the problem up to menopause and tried everything I could think of: increasing the fiber in my diet, drinking more water and exercising even more vigorously.

My doctor didn’t have anything different to suggest, but I brought the problem up to a friend. She suggested taking magnesium. It has completely changed my life. I feel normal again and wanted to share this.

A. Magnesium has long been used as a laxative in the form of milk of magnesia. When used as a dietary supplement in the 250 mg to 400 mg range, it can combat constipation without causing diarrhea. It also may help normalize blood pressure and blood sugar, and prevent muscle cramps. People with impaired kidney function should avoid extra magnesium, however.