What are Generic Drugs?

What are Generic Drugs?

A newly-discovered drug usually gets patent which persists for a period of about 20 years in which the company has an exclusive right to market and recover its investment. The manufacturer gives a newly discovered drug a brand name which is exclusive for its use.

When the patent expires, the same manufacturer or another company can apply for a license to produce a generic but therapeutically equivalent version.

Generic drugs are medications created to be copies of the brand name drugs. They have the same dosage, intended use, administration route, risk and safety as the original branded drug.

A generic drug has similar composition and formulation as the brand version and bears the common scientific name of that particular medicine.

An example is Metformin which is the generic version of the diabetes brand name drug Glucophage®. Omeprazole is also the generic drug counterpart to the antacid Prilosec®.

How similar are Generic drugs to Brand name ones?

  •      Contains the same active components as the brand name.
  •      They are produced in the same dosage form. For example, as a pill or syrup.
  •      Possess the same quality and strength as the branded
  •      Are administered the same way such as oral or nasal.
  •      Are delivered into the bloodstream at the same rate and quantity.
  •      Treats the same condition.

Branded drug manufacturers are also involved in generic drugs production. The FDA regulates and inspects the drugs just like other drugs sold in the US to meet the requirement for identity, strength, and quality.

So, generic drugs in the market already met the FDA rigorous standards for medicine manufacturing. Generic drugs also pass similar stability tests as branded medicines.

Do generic drugs works as brand-names?

Generic drugs that are modeled after the brand name version perform the same function in the body, Thanks to regulation, and vigorous review by FDA, generic drugs can be trusted to perform at a similar level to the branded ones.

According to FDA, about 50% of generics are manufactured by the brand-name companies, meaning the quality of manufacturing is similar.

Generic drugs work as fast and are as effective as the original brand-name products.  

Approved generic drugs are “Bioequivalent” which means that they practically work in the same way and provide the same clinical benefits as the branded versions. They are continuously monitored for side effects and safety after their approval.

Pharmacists can substitute a generic drug for a brand name unless advised otherwise by your doctor.

In the US about 80% of drug prescriptions are for generic drugs which shows their acceptability in treating medical conditions.

How Generic Drugs Differ from Brand-name Drugs

There are slight differences between generic and branded drug. However, these differences are not in the functional aspect of the medicines and are not medically important. A generic drug can differ in shape, color, packaging, and preservatives. In fact, US trademark laws do not allow a generic drug to look like the branded counterpart.

Slight variability is expected and acceptable in generic and branded drugs. Even different batches of brand-name drugs vary in some aspects such as absorption rates.

A large study found that the difference in function between generic and branded drugs is about the same as between branded medicines of different production batches.

The inactive ingredients in generic can be different but must also be safe according to FDA standards. These ingredients don’t affect how the drugs work but make it taste different especially for people who are switching from brand name drugs. The change in taste may be misunderstood as quality but it isn’t.

Why Choose Generic Drugs?

Genetic drugs are quite popular, this is due to a number of reasons including:

  1. Save Patients’ Money

Cheaper cost is the major advantage of generic drugs. Medication costs form a significant part of overall healthcare expenses. So, cheap drugs courtesy of generic medicines is great for patients’ health. Patients can save between 30-60 percent in medication price by switching over to generic drugs. Even patients without insurance can afford to buy the generic versions.

Reduction in pharma bill also allows the public resource to be released for other important health areas such as research. A study revealed that Americans save about 8 to 10 billion dollars a year by choosing generics over brand-name drugs.

Better Health Adherence

Patients on generics are more likely to continue treatment than those on branded drugs which may bring about better health outcomes. This is due to lower copays. Thus, generic drugs help to remove the huge cost barrier to quality health among patients.

  1. Quality

Generic drugs are manufactured under quality and strict guidelines. Hence, they are a good alternative and buyers are not sacrificing anything by purchasing them.

  1. Safety and Efficacy

Generic drugs have similar safety and efficacy as the original counterpart as this large study shows.

  1. Easy to Find

There are about 12000 generic drugs available for various health conditions. This makes it easy for patients to get a generic version of their prescription drugs just by talking to a pharmacist or doctor. They can even order the cheap drugs from online pharmacies.

Why Generic Drugs are Cheaper?

People equate higher price with quality. Cheap generics have brought up questions about the possible trade-off of quality for price. However, this is not the case.

If generic drugs don’t sacrifice quality, how can they be cheaper?

It is for some reasons of costs as we shall see below.

  1. Research and Development Costs

A large cost is incurred for drug research and development which usually takes several years. There is also a big expense for testing a drug’s safety and efficacy in clinical trials. This development cost is included in the branded drugs’ price. However, generic drug manufacturers don’t have these costs and can afford lower prices.

  1. Marketing Costs

Pharma companies spend a lot on advertising new drugs to doctors and the public. Generic manufacturers end up benefiting from such marketing efforts as the drug would have become popular before the patent expires. With little marketing budget, generic drugs can cost much cheaper than branded names.

  1. Competition

Patents grants drug manufactures a monopoly to market and set price. With generic drugs, many pharma companies produce and compete for market share. This helps to lower the overall cost of the drugs.

You can save money on generic drugs while getting the same benefits. You can even save more by using prescription drug coupons. Check out the list of generics that are available at My Dr Hank. We will deliver the drugs to your door.


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