There has long been confusion among patients and their families when the topic of generic versus name-brand or branded drugs comes into play. There are many people who are of the opinion that generic drugs are a lower quality version of branded drugs. This simply is not the case. Both types share the same quality, safety, strength and dosage. There are only two differences between the two. The price and the appearance.
Price Difference – Generic versions of medications are normally much less expensive in comparison to the branded counterpart. The price difference comes into play simply as a result of the costs related to research and development in producing the branded drugs.
There are other factors which come into play, however. Advertising costs for the branded versions are quite high, and some recuperation of this cost plays a major factor when manufacturers set a drug’s retail price. Generic drugs are significantly less expensive to produce since the manufacturers of generic drugs don’t have any of the research, development, advertising and marketing costs the developer of a new drug has. This allows the manufacturer of a generic product to sell it for less.
Appearance – Generic drugs can sometimes be of a different shape than the brand names. The generic version may be a tablet while the branded counterpart is a capsule. Despite this difference they still have the same ingredients and follow the same standards as the branded version. The reason generic versions are different in appearance is because trademark laws do not allow generics to look the same as the brand name drugs. Things such as colors, flavors and any other inactive and inert ingredients may be different.
Quality – When it comes to the quality of generic drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures they are equivalent to the brand-name counterparts. This means the generic must contain the same active ingredients which work the same way once in the body to deliver the desired medicinal effect.
Generic Facts – Any generic drug must have the same potency and chemical equivalence as the branded version. It normally costs much less in comparison to the commercial brand. Because it is so much cheaper to manufacture the generic drug, the savings are passed on to the consumer, reflected as a lower price.
Each generic drug must be reviewed and approved by the FDA. There are heavy requirements set upon the manufacturers of generic drugs to ensure they have the same active ingredients, strength, purity, quality and stability as the brand name drugs. They also must provide the medication in the same form as the brand names – whether you swallow it (pill/tablet/capsule/caplet), drink it (liquid), or inject the medication.
Not every drug has a generic equivalent. Your pharmacist or doctor will be able to tell you if there is one available or if there is a medication in the same family of drugs that has a generic counterpart.
Why switch to a Generic? – Some people are of the mindset of not caring what a medication costs, as they have insurance to cover these costs. It is a fact, however, that ultimately everyone pays for the increase in drug prices as a result of raised premiums or co-pays. The choice each person makes today could have a drastic impact on the premiums you need to pay in the future.
Take the time to discuss the various options with both your physician and your pharmacist to see if any of your medications are available in generic form. You could possibly find yourself saving money, while still receiving the quality of a branded medication.