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Generic vs. Branded Medicines: Understanding the Differences

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When a doctor prescribes medication, they may provide a brand-name drug. However, there may also be a generic version of the medication available. So, which should you choose? This may leave you wondering which one to choose. In this article, we shall understand the differences between generic & branded medicines to help you take an informed decision.

What are Generic Medicines?

A generic drug is a medication that is designed to be the same as an already marketed brand-name drug in terms of dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics, and intended use. The FDA requires that generic drugs demonstrate bioequivalence, meaning that they work in the same way and provide the same clinical benefit as the brand-name medicine.

Why Do Generic Drugs Cost Less?

Generic drugs have the same active ingredients, dosage form, strength, and intended use as their brand-name counterparts. However, one major difference between the two is the price point, often costing up to 85% less than branded-name drug. But why is that? Typically, Generic drugs cost less for two reasons:

    1. Clinical Trials:
      One of the main reasons why generic drugs cost less is that their manufacturers do not have to repeat the clinical trials required for FDA approval. When a new drug is developed, the pharmaceutical company that creates it conducts extensive clinical trials to test its safety and effectiveness. These trials can be expensive, often costing billions of dollars. Once the brand-name drug is approved, the clinical data is publicly available, and other companies can use it to develop generic versions of the drug. Because they do not have to repeat the clinical trials, the cost of producing generic drugs is significantly lower.
    2. Competition:
      Another reason why generic drugs cost less is competition. When the patent on a brand-name drug expires, other companies can begin producing generic versions of the drug. This results in increased competition, which drives down the price of the drug. The more companies that produce a generic drug, the lower the price becomes. This competition is a significant factor in the lower cost of generic drugs.

Examples: To better understand why generic drugs cost less, let’s look at some examples. One popular brand-name drug is Lipitor, which is used to lower cholesterol levels. In 2011, the patent on Lipitor expired, allowing other companies to produce generic versions of the drug. The generic version of Lipitor, called atorvastatin, costs significantly less than the brand-name version. In fact, the generic version of Lipitor costs about 90% less than the brand-name version.

Another example is the drug Zantac, which is used to treat heartburn and acid reflux. When the patent on Zantac expired, other companies began producing generic versions of the drug. The generic version of Zantac, called ranitidine, costs about 75% less than the brand-name version.

In summary, generic drugs cost less than brand-name drugs because their manufacturers do not have to repeat the clinical trials required for FDA approval, and because of increased competition. The cost savings associated with generic drugs can be significant, making them a popular option for those looking to save money on their medication. It is important to note that despite the lower cost, generic drugs are just as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts, as they must meet the same FDA standards for safety and effectiveness.

How Do Generic and Brand-Name Medicines Differ?

Due to trademark laws, generic and brand-name medications cannot look exactly the same. The name of the generic drug is often the same as the active ingredient, but there may be differences in shape, color, packaging, flavorings, inactive ingredients, and price.

Examples of Generic and Brand-Name Medicines
To help you understand the difference between generic and brand-name medicines, here are some examples of common drugs and their generic equivalents:

    • Albuterol Sulfate: ProAir HFA
    • Esomeprazole: Nexium
    • Famotidine: Pepcid
    • Fluconazole: Diflucan
    • Fluticasone Propionate: Flonase
    • Ibuprofen: Motrin
    • Levocetirizine Dihydrochloride: Xyzal
    • Loratadine: Claritin
    • Montelukast Sodium: Singulair

Choosing between generic and brand-name medicines can be confusing, but understanding the similarities and differences between the two can help you make an informed decision. In most cases, generic medicines are just as effective and safe as their brand-name counterparts, but they cost less.

To check if a generic version of a brand-name medication is available, you can browse the website or share your prescription with our panel of esteemed and reputed doctors and experts, who will provide you with all the relevant details.

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.