BRAND-NAME VS. GENERIC DRUGS

generic drugs

generic VS brand drugs

Generic drugs are medications that are identified by their chemical composition rather than their brand, or trade, name. Most people, for example, recognize the brand name Valium, yet the generic name of this anti-anxiety drug is diazepam. You can ask for the brand name or the generic if your health-care practitioner prescribes this drug for you, although if you have a prescription drug plan, your insurance company may only pay for the cost of the generic drug.

Why Brand-Name Drugs Cost More Than Generics.

In the majority of cases, generic drugs are equally as effective as brand-name medications. They also are typically less expensive than brand names, often as much as 50 percent or more. Why is this so?
Pharmaceutical companies spend a great deal of time (usually a decade or more) and money—typically more than $300 million—researching, developing, producing, and marketing a new drug. The result of all that time and effort is, if all goes well, a brand-name drug that is patented and sold exclusively under a single trade name for 17 years, which allows the company to make back the money it invested. Once a patent expires, or if there is no patent, other companies can manufacture and sell that drug under the drug’s generic name or under different brand names. These other companies don’t have to invest all that time and money to bring the original drug to market. Therefore, they can sell the drug at a lower cost

Are Generic Drugs Really Any Good?

if you’ve been reluctant to ask your health-care practitioner or pharmacist for the generic equivalents of drugs you are taking, or if someone has told you that brand-name medications are superior to generics, consider this: did you know that major drug companies produce an estimated 70 to 80 percent of the generic drugs on the market? And did you know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves generic drugs only if they act in the body the same way as the original brand-name drug? So what are you waiting for?

True, there isn’t a generic form available for every brand name. Your health-care practitioner or pharmacist can tell you if generics are available, or you can check in the drug entries in the second part of this book. There are also a few rare exceptions in which the same active ingredient, produced by different manufacturers, is absorbed by the body at a different rate. This difference can mean one drug may be slightly more or less effective than another one.

For example, generic conjugated estrogens are slightly different from Premarin, a brand-name estrogen hormone, and the difference may make the generic less effective at preventing osteoporosis. If you have any questions about the bio-equivalence of any generic, ask your health-care practitioner or pharmacist about it.

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