Generic vs. Brand Name Drugs: Is There a Difference?

When it comes to prescription drugs, who doesn’t want to save money? That is, unless it would negatively impact your health. So, just what is the difference between generic and brand names drugs, and is there really a difference at all?prescrptions

The Similarities
• According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an FDA-approved generic drug is identical to its brand name counterpart in quality, strength, purity and stability. The two are equal in dosage form, safety and quality. In addition, the companies manufacturing, packaging and testing the generic drug are held accountable to meet the same quality standards as the companies manufacturing, packaging and testing the brand name drug.

The Differences
• While a generic drug is required to have the same active ingredient as its brand name equivalent, it is not required to have the same inactive ingredients. In addition, a generic drug is legally forbidden from being identical in appearance to its brand name counterpart, hence differences in color, shape, etc.

• Because a generic drug maker doesn’t assume the costs associated with developing and marketing a drug from scratch, generic drugs are very often much less expensive than brand name drugs. On average, the price of a generic drug is between 80 percent and 85 percent less than the cost of its brand name equivalent. According to the Congressional Budget Office, generic drugs save people approximately $9 billion a year.

• Not every brand name drug has a generic equivalent. When a drug is first made, it has a patent that protects against copying the drug for a period of time, typically 20 years. After a patent expires, other companies can begin to make and sell an FDA-approved generic version of the drug.

Think you might benefit from switching to a generic drug? Talk to your doctor and use the Drugs@FDA catalog of FDA-approved drugs to find out if there is a generic equivalent to a brand name drug. For more information on generic vs. brand name drugs, or to talk with a doctor and find out what’s best for you, visit The Medical Center of Plano online or call us at (972) 596-6800.

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