Brand Name vs. Generic
How to Choose Between Generic and Brand Name Medication
Making a decision between a generic and brand name drug can be confusing. Before deciding which drug is right for you, you must first understand the similarities and differences between generic and brand name drugs. You can then work with your doctor and insurance provider to make a decision that is right for you.
Identifying the Similarities
Understand that generic and brand name drugs contain the same active ingredient.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that generic drugs contain the same active ingredient as the respective brand name drug. This means both generics and brand name medications contain the same active drug, which will have the same effect in your body.
Know that generic and brand name drugs are identical in strength.The FDA requires that brand name drugs and their generic equivalents are administered in the same manner, have the same dosage form, and are equivalent in strength.
Understand that generic and brand name drugs must meet the same quality standards.The FDA requires that generic drugs meet the exact same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality as their brand name counterparts. Generics also must be manufactured under the same strict FDA manufacturing regulations that the industry requires for innovator products.
- These are requirements for all brands, generic or not, of a particular drug.
Realize that generic drugs must perform the same as the brand name drug.This means that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires the drug manufacturer to demonstrate through clinical study that, after a patient takes a generic drug, the amount of the drug in the patient’s bloodstream is at the same level as when a patient takes the brand name drug. If the levels are equivalent, the drug will work the same.
- The FDA requires this of all generic brands of the same drug.
Noting the Differences
Consider the costs.Understand that generic and brand name drugs often differ considerably in cost. Generic drugs tend to be less expensive than brand name medication. Sometimes this price difference can equal hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month.
Know that generic drugs don’t contain the same inactive ingredients as brand name drugs.The Food and Drug Administration does not require that generic drug contain the same inactive ingredients as their brand name counterparts. These ingredients don’t affect the drug’s therapeutic action. Common inactive ingredients include dyes, preservatives, flavoring agents, and binding materials.
- This is an important consideration for patients with allergies or chemical sensitivities.
Understand it is possible that generic drugs can work differently for different individuals.Individuals have, and do, report that generic drugs work better for them than brand name, or vice versa. More studies, however, are needed to determine what, if any, differences exist.
Choosing between Generic and Brand Name Drugs
Find out if there is a generic equivalent of the drug your doctor prescribed.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains a catalog of FDA-approved drug products and drug labeling called [email protected] You can search by drug name or active ingredient to find out if a generic equivalent exists for the drug your doctor prescribed.
Contact your insurance provider to see what drugs they will cover.When your doctor prescribes a drug, it may or may not be covered by your insurance plan. Sometimes the insurance plan will only cover the brand name drug, while other times your insurance will instead cover the generic. Call your insurance provider and ask specific questions about which drugs are, or are not, covered by your individual insurance plan.
Talk to your doctor.Your health care provider will be able to help you decide if a generic or brand name medication is the best choice for you. This will depend on your budget, your insurance coverage, your medical needs, and your allergies. Together, you and your doctor can make a decision that is right for you.
Video: DermTV - The Difference Between Generic and Brand Name Drugs [DermTV.com Epi # 258]
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