Generics: A Tough Pill to Swallow?

September 27, 2010

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Photo: Courtesy of Graur Razvan Ionut

When you go to the pharmacy, which prescription do you choose? Do you go for the brand-name pill that’s been  around for years or the generic drug to save yourself a little money? What do you base your decision on? Do you  ever wonder if the generics are as reliable as the brand-name drugs?

Public Citizen’s Health Research Group recently published an article discussing the myths and facts about generic  drugs. The essence of the piece suggested that there were virtually no difference between brand-name and  generic drugs on the shelf. Contrary to popular belief, generics are held to the same FDA standards as brand-name  drugs when it comes to quality, strength, purity, and stability. Generic drugs work equally to brand-name drugs, meaning they are just as safe and there are no additional side effects or warnings to taking generic drugs. All drugs, regardless if they are brand-name or generic, are all manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities that are closely inspected and regulated by the FDA.

The only true differences between brand-name drugs and generics are the length of time they have been available to consumers and their price. Brand-name drugs have a seven-year patent after approval when generics equivalents cannot be sold. During this time a lot of the “kinks” are figured out in the brand-name drugs and many times they are discontinued from market before a generic equivalent is even produced. As far as price is concerned, generic drugs are substantially more affordable than brand-name drugs. This does not mean that generics are of less quality, but simply you are not paying for the brand-name and all the advertisements associated with the name. On average you will save anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars per pill. Depending on the number of pills you take in a given year, generics could save you hundreds of dollars.

Experts suggest going with generics, especially if it is your first time taking the drug. You will get the same effect as brand-name prescriptions and save yourself a lot of money. 

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