Medication fillers

Hi All,

I had this revelation the other day wondering if part of the reason I have such a tough time taking meds or vitamins is not because of the actual med or vitamin but because of the fillers used in packing them! The evidence for this is as follows: When I took Cipramil, I started by using the name brand version here in Australia. All fine. I was then swapped over to a generic called Telohexal which immediately caused me to have a ton of anxiety. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together for a long while so suffered with all kinds of anxiety and gut issues on it. Someone at work then gave me their left over box of brand name Cipramil. BAM, the anxiety was gone. I went back to Telohexal as a test and instant anxiety returned. Years later in New Zealand I ran out of the Australian Cip brand and got a script for the NZ stuff. Again I was much more anxious again, not like Telohexal but still something was amiss. Again I suddenly thought, damn, it must be the packing agent. Back to Aussie Cipramil and fine again.

So last week and up to a few days ago I began using an American version of valium I was given. A whole pile of new headaches began happening – the sort that I feel when I know it’s not food-based but has that med ring to it. I can generally tell the difference. I’m still trialling this test as I’m not 100% sure but I’m quite certain. I have never had any side effect from the Australian version of valium. The packing agent for both are completely different. The Aussie one cracks like a cookie and is pale yellow and the American one is a different colour and almost soft.

Now I’m wondering how many failed drug trials I’ve been on where my headaches went ballistic were not the drug per se but the packing agent used in the manufacturing process. Yet another variable. I just assume the packing agents are benign but then we are talking about migraine brains here.

Anyone else ever noticed anything like this?

Scott 8)

Yes, Scott you’re definitely onto something. I’ve had lots of missteps with brand name meds, generics, and tons of supplements (I just dumped around $30 worth yesterday due to rice fillers that don’t sit well with me). I used to take a certain brand of generic lorazepam (Ativan) for sleep and every time the pharmacy would dispense it by another drug company I’d feel crappy or it wouldn’t work as well. I’m pretty sure it was either the measuring of the generics (the don’t exactly match the brand names anyway) or the fillers. Happened years ago when I took a tiny dose of Prozac and then the doctor switched me to a generic… bammo - I felt crappy. And, again I know for sure it’s happened with vitamins and I have lost hundreds of dollars with those. Sheesh it’s really difficult to be us.

Yes, here also my pharmacy ran out of my normal Topamax and gave me a different brand, noticed immediately upon taking the first dose something wasn’t right by the third day symptoms were crazy, I called the pharmacist and explained my concerns he immediately told me to bring the unused portion back and he replaced it with my normal Topamax which was now in stock. It really is amazing how sensitive we all are to the littlest thing.


I don’t seem to have a problem with fillers at all. Scott, it would be shame for those US Valium to go to waste. I am willing to take them off your hands :lol:

It’s possible, but if you recall there was a corollary to this idea posted by JOH on awhile back. He cited to an article about the placebo effect hypothesizing that perhaps the “placebo” pill contained a substance that was actually curative, and so the placebo subjects improved because of something in the pills (as opposed to some psychological effect). I’m not sure I bought that explanation.

The only exception to this for migraineurs that I can think of is any medication that comes on a gelcap, since apparently the gelatin can trigger some folks. I’m not a migraineur, so it’s not an issue for me. But I have read that gelatin can be a trigger for many people.

The fillers in prescriptions can be a real problem. My oldest son has celiac. Before he takes a medication or a supplement, he has to verify that it doesn’t contain starches derived from wheat or barley. Some medications contain lactose as a filler, which might be a problem if you’re lactose intolerant. And they may contain sweeteners or colors or flavoring agents that can be problematic.

If you’ve figured out that you can take one version of a med but not another version, you should be able to get a list of the inactive ingredients for both from the pharmacist, and compare. You might be able to identify the specific ingredient that’s a problem for you, making it easier to avoid it in the future.


Mamabear - that’s a great idea… didn’t occur to me to ask the pharmacy even though they are my heroes around drug info. rather than the doctors who can only know so much about meds. Thanks!

Yes, I have to have the brand name Serc, they tried me on two different generics in the past and I was more dizzy, so I keep to the Serc.


I have actually been concerned about fillers. I haven’t tried out any migraine medications yet, but was just given a prescription for nortriptyline. I took it to the pharmacy yesterday and asked for Pamelor (name brand) instead of generic nortriptyline. I asked for Pamelor because I was concerned that the nortriptyline fillers are different and therefore not as effective. Probably doesn’t matter, but I didn’t want to take any chances…