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Generic vs. Brand Name Drugs: Is There Really Any Difference?

    In 2019 alone, the US healthcare system saved a whopping $313 billion due to the availability of generic drugs. It saved an additional $48.5 billion in Medicaid and $96 billion in Medicare. This raises a very critical question.

    Are generic drugs as good as the original brand name drugs? What should you get, generic vs. brand name drugs? Why are 9 out of 10 prescriptions in the US filled for generic drugs?

    When most people think about generic things, they think about knock-offs that can’t hold a candle to the original items. However, there is so much more to generic drugs. If you’ve been wondering why the pharmacist asks if you want the brand or generic drugs but don’t know the difference, this guide will answer all your questions on the matter.

    Generic Vs. Brand Name Drugs

    Let’s start with the most basic thing, which is the difference between the two. Brand name drugs are medications created by pharmaceutical companies that conduct clinical tests and patent the drugs. With a patent, they are the only company with the legal right to market the drugs under its original name.

    Generic drugs, on the other hand, are drugs manufactured by other companies but carry the same ingredients as the brand name drugs. These companies have to market the drugs under different names, though, because only the brand company has the right to market it with the initial original name. You can get both brand-name drugs and generic on physical and online pharmacies such as

    Do Generic Drugs Work the Same Way as Brand-Name Drugs?

    The Food and Drug Administration or FDA requires that generic drugs have the same ingredients, strength, route of administration, and dosage form as the brand-name drugs. Generic drug manufacturers must prove that the drugs are bioequivalent and pass the same standards and quality as the brand-name drugs.

    In this regard, when it comes to generic vs. brand name drugs, either option will get the job done because both are regulated. Most generic drugs are usually manufactured at the parent company.

    Why Are Generic Drugs So Much Cheaper?

    If you’ve ever compared the price between generic drugs and brand-name drugs, you know how expensive brand-name drugs can be. Generic drugs are about 80-85% less expensive, and there are several understandable reasons for this. For starters, brand companies have to conduct months, if not years of tests or clinical trials before they can prove that one drug is both effective and safe for human consumption.

    Clinical trials can be extremely expensive, so brand companies have to recoup their expenses by selling the drugs at a much higher price. The second reason is that brand-name drugs are only sold by the patent manufacturer, while many companies manufacture generic drugs. This leads to high competition in the marketplace, which ultimately lowers the price.

    Generic Vs. Brand-Name Drugs: How Do You Know the Difference

    If you have a preference between the two, it’s not hard to tell the difference. The packaging itself must be completely different, and trademark reasons wouldn’t allow the drugs to look the same. The ingredients may be the same, but everything else from the shape, color, flavorings, and inactive ingredients may differ.

    How Safe Are Generic Drugs?

    Apart from issuing the requirements, the FDA heavily regulates generic drugs and conducts thorough and rigorous reviews before approval. They conduct tests to make sure the drugs meet efficiency ad offer the same benefits the brand-name drugs do. The test how long unused generic drugs last, how sturdy their containers are, and what the side-effects are.

    They will also gauge whether the manufacturer can produce the drug correctly and consistently in a safe manner. Even after the manufacturer puts the drugs in the market, the FDA monitors and inspects the plants routinely to check any safety concerns.

    Should You Choose Brand-Name Over Generic Drugs?

    Given that generic drugs work the same and happen to be much cheaper, is there a reason why you should choose the brand-name drugs? Still, there are certain cases where you can purchase brand-name drugs, such as when generic drugs are not available. Some drugs don’t have a generic version available in the market and may never be available.

    It’s also critical that you stick to original drugs if you take a narrow therapeutic drug index. Sometimes, even the slightest difference in blood concentration and the dosage may lead to serious adverse reactions. This means that if you initially start on the brand drugs, you should stick to that, and the same goes for generic drugs.

    Can Your Insurance Pay for Brand-Name Drugs?

    Most insurance companies prefer that patients use generic drugs over the original. However, if your doctor specifically recommended brand-name drugs, could the insurance company pay for it? Some insurance companies do allow it, but you would have to pay more.

    Some other companies require that you undergo step therapy before they approve and cover the brand-name medications. This means that you will have to try out other less expensive drugs before they approve of the original one.

    Alternatively, you can ask your doctor to write the insurance company and ask that they add the drug to their list of preferred drugs. If that doesn’t work, check to see if you can attain a manufacturer copay car for the drugs.

    However, these cards are for patients with private insurance who want to save on brand drugs. With the card, you can get brand-name medications at reduced costs, making it cheaper for you to afford.

    Generic Vs. Brand-Name Drugs: What Should You Get?

    There is nothing wrong with getting generic vs. brand name drugs. Unless your doctor specifies it, both will serve the same goal because even though generic drugs are replicas, they work the same. If you do need to stick to one brand, it’s advisable for you to stay keen on the packaging and name of the drug to avoid any alterations and side-effects.

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