Generic Drugs vs. Brand Name Drugs
No one wants to pay more for something than they should. Every pill counts at the pharmacy and
the costs can add up quickly. With the rising cost of healthcare, it is important to save when you
Taking generic medications when possible can save you a lot of money, sometimes up to 80
percent less than the name brand drug.
Generic drugs are typically much less expensive than name brand drugs, but the concern often is
that the lower cost might mean the drug is less effective. The myth that generic drugs are not safe
is not true.
By law, the FDA requires that the active ingredients of generic drugs are the same as the brand
name equivalents in dosage, form, safety, strength, quality and side effects. All generic drugs
must be approved by the FDA before they can be prescribed or sold. This makes generic drugs
just as safe and effective as the name brand versions.
Generics may look different than their name brand counterparts because they have different
fillers for inactive ingredients. The look of the name brand name is protected by trademark laws,
so the generic drug is required to look different.
Some people mistakenly believe that generic medications are slower to work in the body. The
truth is that generic drugs are absorbed by the body just as quickly as the name brand medication,
and they offer the same health benefits.
In order to create a balance between new drug creation and generic drug competition, the FDA
grants exclusive rights to drug manufacturers when a new drug is created. After the discovery of
a drug, and following a set period of time on the market, a manufacturer’s patent for the drug
expires, which makes it legal for any manufacturer to produce the medication and sell it as a
Generic drugs are less expensive because the manufacturer doesn’t have the investment costs in
research, development, clinical trials and marketing that the new developer of name brand drugs
has had. This allows the generic manufacturers to sell their products at a substantially lower cost.
Not all medications have a generic equivalent. However, almost half of all prescriptions are filled
with generic medications. Whether you use a generic or name brand medication depends on your
budget, your doctor’s recommendation and your personal preference.
Ask your doctor if there are generics available for your prescription. Switching to a generic
medication can help reduce your healthcare costs. Even with FDA requirements, in some cases,
small differences in the formula of the medication you are taking can impact your health.
Most of the time, taking generics is safe, but you should not switch back and forth between
generic and brand name medications because of the subtle differences.
If you are already taking a name brand name medication and would like to switch, talk with your
doctor. Always consult with your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your