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Health and Fitness News

The Facts on the Off-Brand

Are generic drugs as effective as their brand-name counterparts?

Money can be tight, especially these days. One way to keep more money in your pocket is by purchasing generic drugs. When you hear the word “generic” you may think of lower quality. You know generic foods are cheaper, but they often don’t taste as good as their name-brand counterparts. So you wonder if generic drugs are as good as their brand-name equivalent. Do they really work as well? After all, you don’t want to take medication that’s subpar.

Read on to get your generic questions answered.

Lower Price

Generic drugs often cost 80 to 85 percent less than their counterparts. Since lower cost is often associated with lower quality, people question their effectiveness and safety. Wonder how generic drugs cost so much less than their brand-name equivalent?

As a new drug is developed, manufacturers must perform lengthy animal and human (clinical) studies in order to prove the medication’s effectiveness and safety. These studies take time and money. Generic drugs enter the scene after the studies have taken place. Since they’re made with the same active ingredient, they aren’t required to undergo the same extensive, repetitive testing. The result is that they cost much less.

A second reason why generic drugs are cheaper is due to the fact that multiple manufacturers market the same generic drug. It is market competition. This competition is good for the consumer, as it results in lower prices.

Different but Same

You can rest assured that what you’re getting with a generic drug is the same as its brand-name counterpart. Generic drugs may look different and have a different name, but they are essentially the same. When they’re made, generic drugs are designed to match brand-name drugs with regards to safety, quality, strength, dosage, form of administration, effectiveness, and use. They come with the same benefits and risks. They’re also held to the same standards of health and safety as brand-name drugs. Both the brand-name drug and its generic form contain the same active ingredient, though inactive ingredients may differ. Due to trademark laws, drugs can’t be produced to look exactly like another drug on the market.

Meeting Standards

In the United States, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) ensures the safety of medication. This includes all brand-name and generic drugs. When a drug company develops a generic drug, it must submit an application to the FDA for review.

The application must prove that the generic drug is equal to its counterpart in its active ingredient. It must have the same strength, the same type of medication (liquid or tablet), the same use, and the same form of administration (topical or oral). Generic medications must also work for the same amount of time. Their inactive ingredients must also meet certain standards. And the manufacturer must prove they produce the medication consistently and correctly. Besides the medication itself, the FDA also approves the drug’s container, label, and shipping process.

After initial approval, the FDA continues monitoring the drug’s active ingredient, side effects, and safety.

Finding Generic

When prescribed a medication, it’s a good idea to find out if a generic option is available. The best way to do this is to ask your doctor or pharmacist. You can also look online. Just search for drugs@FDA. This will bring up the FDA’s catalog of approved medications. When a new brand-name drug is developed, it takes time for generic options to get approved and become available. So if you’re prescribed a new medication, there may be no generic alternative.