5 Medications With Multiple Uses, Depending on the Strength of the Pill

a doctor's prescription pad
Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Medicines are often approved by the FDA under different strengths, formulations and uses. Advil comes as both a tablet and capsule, for example; Singulair is approved for asthma and allergic rhinitis; and antibiotic cephalexin comes in 250 mg, 500 mg and 750 mg capsules.

But some medicines have approved uses that depend on a specific strength, and those uses are often tied to a specific brand name. Let’s take a look a five popular drug examples here.


1) Tadalafil

Tadalafil is prescribed under the brand names, Adcirca and Cialis. As 20 mg tablets, Adcirca and generic tadalafil are approved to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), or high blood pressure in the lungs.

Then, there’s Cialis, which also contains tadalafil but is approved to treat a separate set of health conditions. All four strengths are approved to treat erectile dysfunction. In addition, Cialis 5 mg tablets are approved to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate that can cause problems with urination.


2) Sildenafil

Sildenafil comes in a four different tablet strengths: 20 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg. The lowest strength is available as generic sildenafil but is also branded as Revatio. Sildenafil 20 mg is approved to treat PAH.

The other three strengths are also available as generic sildenafil as well as popular brand drug Viagra. Sildenafil 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg are approved to treat erectile dysfunction.


3) Finasteride

Finasteride is available in only two different strengths, 1 mg and 5 mg, and each as a specific intended purpose. Finasteride 1 mg, sold as generic finasteride 1 mg and brand-name Propecia, is approved to treat hair loss.

Finasteride 5 mg has a very different use. It’s approved to treat BPH and is available as generic finasteride 5 mg as well as brand-name Proscar


4) Fluoxetine

Fluoxetine is an SSRI antidepressant that is branded as both Sarafem and Prozac. Prozac and generic fluoxetine are available in 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg and 90 mg strengths, either as capsules and tablets. Prozac has a variety of approved uses: major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bulimia, and panic disorder.

In contrast, Sarafem does not have a generic version and is only approved for one use. Sarafem 10 mg, 15 mg and 20 mg tablets are used to treat a severe form of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).


5) Bupropion

Our last example is bupropion, a well-known antidepressant and smoking cessation aid. Bupropion is available in four different brands, each with their own specific uses and options for strength, formulation and generics.

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