Generic drugs are cheaper than their branded counterparts are. Consumers save billions of dollars every year when they opt for generic over branded medicine. These two types of drugs may be light-years away in terms of pricing, but they are identical in terms of chemical composition. With respect to their innovator counterparts, generic medications contain the same active ingredients, have the same indications, and are bioequivalent such that they have the same dosage, strength, and route of administration.
How similar are generic drugs to branded drugs?
Since generic medications are essentially similar to branded versions, they are equally effective in dealing with the symptoms that the patient presents with. Since they work in the same way, the patient can expect the same quality at a much lower price. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can offer the assurance that generic medications have the same purity, strength, and stability as their branded counterparts.
The cost of prescription medications continues to skyrocket. While not every prescription drug has an equivalent lower cost match, many generic drugs can be substituted for the higher cost, name brand version. A generic drug becomes available to the public after the initial research and development phase of a new product is completed and after any patent related to that process has expired. Since the drug has already been proven in the market, large quantities of a duplicate generic medication can be produced without the added expense of development and advertising. This brings down the cost to the consumer.
In the U.S., the FDA requires that any generic drug must have the same active ingredients as the original, brand name version. This ensures that the effectiveness, safety and side effects are identical and that the consumer is protected from variations should they switch to a generic version. The FDA provides a list of approved generic drugs to make sure the customer knows what they are getting is approved by the FDA. Many insurance companies, including Medicare, encourage customers to take advantage of a generic drug wherever possible. Also, many physicians in the U.S. prescribe generic medication for their patients if it is available. It has become a standard practice in most communities to follow this protocol which benefits the medical practitioners, insurance companies and the end user – the patient.
The safest and most reliable source for obtaining a generic drug is through a local pharmacy or an approved online supplier. Purchasing drugs without a prescription from an unknown source or foreign company can be risky because the ingredients may not be FDA controlled. If the prescribing physician has not specifically called for the generic drug name, many pharmacies will ask if the patient would like to substitute. This may require a phone call or FAX to confirm but in most cases the less expensive version will be approved by the doctor.