Increased Usage of Generic Drugs in the United States

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.

Typically, the cost savings from using a generic brand is approximately 30 percent. This significant savings has a large impact on anyone who takes medication on a daily or weekly basis. Multiplied annually, the difference can mean a more comfortable existence for many people. Big name grocery stores and drug stores have realized the need for offering generic forms of popular medications and have introduced programs such as the Wal-Mart Generic Drug program.

Substituting a valid generic drug for a name brand drug is a safe practice if handled through a licensed drug distributor and filled with a prescription by a medical practitioner. The drug companies that manufacture generic drugs continue to introduce new products. This rapidly growing trend will continue to drop the high cost of prescription medications in the U.S. Make sure to always check the list of approved generic drugs to keep up to date on the newest FDA approved forms.