Letrozole & Tartrezine

I’ve been on Letrozole since 2009 – initially Femara – now generic forms – but finding I have no consistency in brand – on one brand I had a bad month with sleeplessness & joint pains worse so asked pharmacist & given Femara for a couple of months but always dreading what I’ll actually pick up. Today given Letrozole with tartrazine aluminium lake (E102) & am freaking out! I try everything to avoid ‘nasties’ as this was my 2nd primary breast cancer (1st negative 2005). Have spoken to pharmacist but says he can do nothing – have appt with my doctor April 6th (next available!!)
Please does anyone else struggle with this?? Any advice?
Haven’t been on here for ages but do wish everyone all the best.
Love Kath

Hi Kath.

I started off on Femara and then changed to Teva. Reasonably SE free with Femara but increased joint pain and queasy with Teva. GP has put me back on Femara for a month to see if SE subside, much better on Femara so hopefully will be able to stay on that. I know they try to move us onto generic if possible as it is very very much cheaper and they are obliged to reduce costs by the government hoping that most women don’t have increased side effects. Hopefully if you explain to your GP they will be able to specifically prescribe you Femara. xxx

I’ve been on several different brands, I guess it just depends what the pharmacy has in stock. I notice no difference whatsoever in side-effects.

Good luck Kath. I hope your doctor is helpful.

By the way, is it an NHS GP you’re seeing on 6 April? Personally I’d change practice if I had to wait that length of time to see someone (but I am a bit of a stroppy cow about that sort of stuff!).

I started letrozole in December. My chemist has always been giving me the generic from Sandoz. Today I picked up my prescription from the chemist, I have 3 boxes of Letrozole and one of Femara. I found this odd. I will be able to compare side effects.

My Onc perscribed Femara, my Doc wrote the repeat script as Letrozole, so I got a generic (Teva I think).

I thought about it and decided that as I got on with the Femara resonably well, I didn’t want to risk changing - the aches and pains had only just started to settle down, also I felt strongly that I should have what the Onc said I should have.

Doc was very understanding and has now changed the script to say “Femara” and I’ve not had any further problems.

good luck
P xxx

I was on Femara for two months before chemo with very little in the way of side effects. After chemo I was given the generic Letrazole by Tena. Now I can hardly walk when I have been sitting for a while. My joints ache especially my feet. I happened to have three weeks of the original Femara left over from pre chemo. So I took it to see if it would make any difference remembering the previous lack of problems. I know it shouldn’t , I tell people all the time that the generic brands are just as good…but guess what. My stiffness and pain went by the FIRStT tablet. I couldn’t believe it. I am now taking the generic again because I have no more Femara just a packet of Letrazole by Tena…l.but the pain and stiffness is back after one day. How I am going to explain this to my GP I do not know. The surgery has overspent its drug budget by £80,000 and is not giving prescriptions for medication that can be bought. I will be seen as a crank no doubt. I think if she diesn’t give it to me I will ask for a private script it will be worth the £86 a month. I wonder if it is cheaper elsewhere in Europe. Does anybody know?

Thank you all so much for replying.
Crackles I totally agree about feeling a crank because it is the same drug! However my suspicion is that the side effects are caused by the horrid additives used to colour the pills (tartrazine (E102) in Teva brand). Yes I know Femara is coloured too but each different brand has different additives which is perhaps why SEs are so variable? I have taken Letrozole by Consilent Health & Ranbaxy without too much bother.So am hopeful of searching for understanding pharmacist & being able to stick to generic that suits? Why should that be difficult!? But that is what my problem is,I think!
Vercos v impressed you can get 4 boxes! I’m only ever allowed 1!!
Have decided to see my doc today. Our appointment system means you wait ages to book ahead but there are available(usually!)daily appointments.
Love K x

There’s quite a few threads about changes from branded to generic hormone tablets so I don’t think it’s all in the mind! Different binding or colouring ingredients seem to affect some but when I spoke to my GP about it he said it can also be the release rate of the active ingredient. I know there are real budget problems in the health service which is why the tablets are being changed now that most of the licenses have expired but it can be a change for the worse for some of us. I had to request, and luckily get, a change back to branded Arimidex after my SE’s got so much worse but I have a sympathetic GP. It’s definitely worth a chat to your GP explaining how different things are for you. Also have a look through the hormone therapy part of the BC treatments menu on the side of the forum, quite a lot of us have had varying experiences.
Nicky x

I think I would have been slightly suspicious a few months ago about variations in generics - until it happened to me!

I was on Teva and then another brand (which I have forgotten) until I got a box of Ranbaxy from the chemist - cue nausea and vomiting, so I stopped the tablets for a few days until he kindly got another generic in for me. I could have gone back to the Teva which was ok, but I tried the Sandoz as another thread said that this was made by the same people as Femara and their chemist had said it was identical.

No more nausea. The chemist says he is fine to ensure he keeps getting the Sandoz. The point of all this is that it can make a difference to try different brands - and some women have found it is not necessarily the branded one that suits them best.

Hope you find what works for you.


I started Letrozole about 7 weeks ago, and after comments I’d read on here, I was concerned that my side effects might get worse if I changed brands when my GP gave me my first prescription. I was also concerned that I didn’t want to take a brand which contained tartrazine. I took my prescription to several pharmacies, but none of them stocked the brand I had been given by the hospital, and most offered me Teva, which contains tartrazine. When I found a chemist that stocked a different brand, the pharmacist was happy for me to read the leaflet which came with the tablets so I could compare the other ingredients with the tablets I’d been given by the hospital. I’d already had bad joint pains and horrendous flushes from the tablets I got from the hospital, as well as other less serious side effects, and don’t think anything changed with the different brand of pills.

But interestingly, I mentioned the side effects to the oncologist when I saw her on Monday, and she said that a number of her patients cut the tablets in half and took half in the morning and half at night, and this reduced their side effects. I started this on Tuesday morning, and already my joint pains and flushes are very significantly improved.

New to breast cancer but know I’ve had this generic /original brand with other meds. GPs and consultants and most pharmacists deny there is any difference. I guess I must have imagined it all Sorry - for sarcasm but do hate being treated like an idiot by these people. PS just put up new post asking if anybody else has been started straigth on hormonal treatment as couldn’t find nybody on macmillan forum. Feel like a basket case. I was a young 56 two months ago!.

Hello to everyone. I was on the Femara brand of letrozole then after 10 months instead of my chemist issuing me Femara he gave me the Ranbaxy brand of Letrozole. At first I thought nothing of it after all Femara and Ranbaxy are just the makers-the drug is the same. But then after a few days of taking this brand of letrozole I started seeing the side effect I had on Femara increase. Upon discussing it with my chemist I was informed all chemists were now issuing the generics brands of Letrozole instead of Femara due to them being so much cheaper. However,as after seven weeks these new side effects were making me feel so unwell I contacted my G P and asked her if it was possible to put on my precription Femara so I did not get given the generic brands. I’m pleased to say that was 7 months ago and I have been back on Femara eversince. On Femara like most ladies I do have hot flushes, fatique and joint pains,but my main problem is pain in left arm. My dr thinks this is not connected to my drug as I do not see it in my other arm. It is around the elbow and top of arm sometime also wrist. It only hurts when I move the arm in certain positions and the pain goes within 60 seconds after I remove the arm from that position. Has anyone else seen similar problems in just one arm? All the best to everyone. JL

I have been on the Teva brand of Letrozole and after 1 1/2 months could hardly walk with extreme joint and muscle pain. I stopped taking it to see if symptoms lessened and they have after 1 1/2 weeks, but not disappeared. The pharmacist can offer 3 other generic brands, but not Femara. I am waiting for advice as I am unwilling to continue on this drug. Any suggestions for other brands? Can tolerate other SEs.

I have also experienced asymmetrical joint and muscle pain, similar to JL.