What is the Difference Between Generic and Brand-Name Drugs?

generic brand-name drugs

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As with most other products and services in the health care field, Americans spend a lot of money on medications. In 2020 alone, the United States spent 358.7 billion dollars on prescription drugs. Although generic medications account for the majority of prescriptions filled, brand-name medications are responsible for the majority of the costs. Because of the difference in cost, most people opt for generic prescriptions. Therefore, it is important to understand the difference between generic and brand-name drugs.

What are generic drugs?

Generic medications are copies that contain the same active ingredients as the original brand. They are also, on average, available for about 85 percent less than the cost of brand name prescriptions. Once the brand-name drug’s patent expires, generics are then allowed to compete in the market.

In order to enter the market, generic drugs go through an FDA approval process where they must meet quality, safety, and effectiveness standards. The generic medication has to prove it is bioequivalent to the brand name version it is replicating. Bioequivalence means that the generic works in the exact same way and provides similar benefits as the brand name version.

Difference between generic and name-brand drugs

Generic medications are required to go through a series of tests that ensure their effectiveness before getting approved by the FDA. They must have the same active ingredients and provide the same benefits that brand-name medications provide.

However, there are a few differences between the two. Generic and brand-name medications do not look the same. Generics may have different inactive ingredients (fillers, binders, flavors, etc.) that may change the look of the medication but do not affect the way the medicine functions.

Many people and some doctors have concerns with choosing generic prescriptions and instead prefer brand names. These concerns can include:

  • Worsening of symptoms
  • Side effects
  • Adverse reactions
  • Effectiveness
  • Safety
  • Quality

Which one is the better option?

Generic medications can be considered the more popular choice because they are the least expensive option. Health outcomes have been shown to improve due to the low cost of generic medications. People are more likely to fill and take their prescriptions when they are prescribed the cheaper generic versions. This is especially true for individuals that do not have insurance.

There are certain cases where there is not a generic option available for a brand-name drug. Additionally, some individuals may need to continue using brand-name medications if their bodies are not responding to the generic drug, or they have an allergy. Similarly, some doctors prefer not to switch brand-name medications that have a narrow therapeutic index. This means that there is a small window between the benefits and the harmful effects of the drug.

Essentially, both generic and brand-name medications are required to prove that they are safe and effective enough to be approved by the FDA. Although generic medications are the least expensive option, some doctors may not always prefer switching the brand name to a generic prescription. Ultimately, it is the decision of the patient or the doctor what type of medication they will take.

Got Medicare Questions?

We hope this information on the difference between generic and brand-name drugs is helpful to you.

If you have questions about your Medicare coverage, call Empower Brokerage today. Let us help with your Medicare questions so you can get back to the activities you enjoy the most. (888) 446-9157 or click here to get an INSTANT QUOTE

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About Kayla Gonzalez

Kayla Gonzalez is a graduate of Texas A&M University and joined the Empower Brokerage marketing team in early 2021. She creates content for the company websites and assists with various marketing campaigns. LinkedIn Profile

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