Health & Family

Not all Concerta generics are equal

Q: I was delighted to read about Food and Drug Administration concerns regarding generic Concerta. My prescription insurance is going to an essentially generic-only pricing system that will push the price of brand-name Concerta up hundreds of dollars a month for us starting in January.

I was planning to do anything possible to keep my son on Concerta, since it is the only thing that helps him stay focused on his studies in high school. I didn’t know how I could fight the change to generic since it became available last year. Having the FDA make this announcement should help us.

A: The FDA recently noted that two generic formulations of Concerta (methylphenidate ER) might not work as well as the brand-name medicine. The manufacturers are Mallinckrodt and Kudco. According to the FDA, “Janssen also manufactures an authorized Concerta generic, which is marketed by Actavis under a licensing agreement and is identical to Janssen’s Concerta.” This authorized generic might resolve your dilemma.

Clogging the toilet

Q: I have bowel movements that are so large, they clog the toilet. I am not constipated and eat my share of fruits and vegetables. This is not a big deal at home, since I have a plunger in the bathroom to deal with the plumbing problem.

My great fear is having to use the facilities elsewhere. One time I stopped up a friend’s toilet, and there was no plunger in sight. It was extremely embarrassing.

Short of carrying a plunger with me, which is of course ridiculous, what can I do?

A: We have heard from many readers who face a similar challenge. One reader wrote: “My grandson has this problem despite lots of fiber and fruit. His physician said that because our water is very high in calcium, my grandson might be low on magnesium. Since magnesium is a vital nutrient, it made sense to try a supplement. This works like a charm!”

Other ideas include chewing sugarless gum or sipping flaxseed broth. One woman who developed this problem during her pregnancy was advised to alternate milk of magnesia, a stool softener like Colace and daily fish oil.

Nail fungus cure

Q: After contracting nail fungus on my left ring finger, I soaked the offending nail and fingertip in hydrogen peroxide for five minutes several times a day. After about a week of this, the fungus disappeared for two years.

When it came back, I tried the same treatment, except this time I used Povidone iodine solution. It seems to be working beautifully. The nail is turning pink, the rough area is disappearing, the tenderness at the affected area is gone, and the nail feels normal again.

A: Thank you for sharing your success story. Many other readers have found hydrogen-peroxide soaks beneficial against nail fungus. Others have reported that “white iodine” also works. Povidone iodine solution has significant antifungal activity (Oral Diseases, November 2014), but it does stain the skin and nails dark brown.

Reach Joe and Terry Graedon at