DIAZEPAM. Valium is an effective benzodiazepine used for anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and muscle spasms. However, this brand-name drug can be costly and is not always covered by health insurance. Diazepam, the generic version of Valium, may be an option for people seeking a more affordable option. And aside from its lower cost, generic Valium has been found to have similar effectiveness.
Formulation of Diazepam
Both Valium and its generic are available in tablets containing 2 milligrams (mg), 5 mg, or 10 mg of the active ingredient valium. This is in accordance with rules set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which state that generic drugs must have the same active or key ingredient and the same strength as the brand version.1
Though this is mandated, inactive ingredients can differ between the brand and generic or between different manufacturers of generic medicine. That means that while you may react well to brand-name Valium, a generic version may have components that you don’t react well to (e.g., lactose or a dye). Likewise, you may be able to take one generic Valium, but not another.
The inactive ingredients of brand-name Valium, manufactured by Roche, are: anhydrous lactose, corn starch, pregelatinized starch, and calcium stearate with the following dyes: 5-milligram tablets contain FD&C Yellow No. 6 and D&C Yellow No. 10; and 10-milligram tablets contain FD&C Blue No. 1.2
The manufacturer of the generic diazepam you get can change every time you get your prescription filled, meaning the inactive ingredients in your medication can change from fill to fill as well.
Particularly if you have intolerances or allergies, check with your doctor and your pharmacist to make sure that the list of ingredients in the medication you are getting is safe for you.
Efficacy of Diazepam
According to the manufacturer labels, both Valium and a generic diazepam (manufacturer TEVA) are similar in their efficacy. Both claim to have a 90% absorption rate and a peak concentration an hour to an hour and a half after you take it.3
However, one study did find that brand-name Valium had a peak concentration and absorption that was higher than one type of generic diazepam.4
Talk with your doctor and pharmacist if you have any questions about the potency of the medication. If you are concerned about the effectiveness, they may suggest you switch to a different type.
Safety Of Diazepam
Both Valium and generic d have similar risk profile and side effects. The most common side effects of Valium and its generic are:5
Both Valium and generic diazepam may lead to serious complications, coma, or death if taken with opioid drugs such as codeine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, methadone, morphine, and oxycodone. Drinking alcohol or using street drugs also increases your risk of serious side effects.
If you take this product with any of these drugs, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency care if you have any of the following serious symptoms:5
- Unusual dizziness
- Extreme sleepiness
- Slow or difficult breathing
Valium and the generic D have the potential for addiction. You should only take the amount prescribed by your doctor. Your doctor should talk to you about whether there are known reasons why you might be prone to addiction before taking the medication. Disclosing your full family and personal medical history is important in this regard.
Both Valium and generic diazepam can cause unexpected changes in mental health, including suicidal thoughts. Call your doctor immediately if you or a loved one is taking diazepam and experience increased irritability, aggression, panic attacks, or depression.
The cost of generic diazepam is significantly less than the brand Valium. The cost for 100 of the 2-milligram tablets is about $325 for Valium and $10 for the generic.6
Check with your health insurance provider about the cost for each medication. While insurers and Medicare do tend to cover generic diazepam, some insurers won’t cover brand-name medications.
Forms and Appearance
The brand Valium and generic diazepam can come in different forms, including a tablet, solution, and a concentrate (liquid) to take orally.5 The tablets are typically round and come in different colors depending on the manufacturer and the dosage, whether it’s a 2-mg, 5-mg, or 10-mg tablet.