Generic Medications – The Unadvertised Alternative
It may surprise you, but nearly 80% of all prescriptions filled in the U.S. are generic medications. That number could rise as more brand-name medications acquire generic equivalents. However, to some people, the word generic has a negative connotation because they either identify with the marketed brand or believe the brand-name and generic medications are different in effectiveness. Here are some facts you should know about generic medications:
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generic medication requirements are strict and many tests must be successfully completed before approval is given.
- Generic medications must have the same active ingredients, be available in the same dosage forms (pill/liquid/inhaler), and process through the body in the same way as brand-name products. Generic medications are not required to have the same inactive ingredients.
- Generic medications must have similar strength, purity, quality and potency as the brand-name.
- Generic medication manufacturing, packaging and test sites must pass the same strict quality standards as brand-name medications. Many brand-name manufacturing plants also make generic medications. Lower costs do not mean lower quality. Generic medications cost as much as 80% less, because costly clinical trials have already been performed by brand-name manufacturers. Generic medications also cost less because they are not advertised and marketed like brand-name medications. In fact, many companies make their own generic versions of brand-name medications, which create even more competition in the market place.
- On average, the difference in effectiveness between generic medications and their brand-name equivalents are 3.5%. This difference shows in some cases generic medications are absorbed slightly more or slightly less. This same difference is also noted when two batches of the same brand-name medication are compared.
- The FDA monitors and regulates all medication products, including generics. When reports of adverse effects are noted, the FDA investigates and takes appropriate action.
Copays for generic medications are also less expensive than the copays for brand-name medications. Keep in mind, not all brand-name medications have generic equivalents. If you are prescribed a brand-name medication, ask your doctor if a generic medication is available and appropriate for you.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration