As you walk through the drugstore or supermarket looking for the right over-the-counter medication to treat your cold, allergies, or stomach ache, you may become overwhelmed with the options. You see brand names that you’re familiar with, store brands that you may recognize, and bottles that note the active ingredient. If you’re wondering what the difference is between generic and name-brand drugs, you’re not alone.
When you’re not feeling well, you want the best medication to treat your symptoms. It’s one thing that you don’t want to compromise on for price over quality. But do generic drugs compromise on quality? Science says no, and you’ll likely save money by making the switch.
Still, many people have questions. We’re here to provide you with answers.
Are Generic Drugs As Effective As Name-Brands?
Yes. According to FDA regulations, generic medications must be just as safe and effective as their name-brand counterparts to hit the shelves. All generic drugs must receive FDA approval before they make their way to stores and into consumers’ shopping carts. A generic medication contains the same active ingredients as the name-brand version, in the same dose.
You can be sure when you purchase a product made by a generic drug company that it will treat your symptoms just as well as the name-brand you’re familiar with. Some people believe that name-brand medications are better. Find out if you’re aware of your medication brand influence.
How Do I Know Which Generic to Purchase?
If you’re looking to save money without compromising quality by buying generic, you need to know what to look for. Often, store brands (which are a generic version of a name-brand drug) have names that play off the original brand. They do this to help consumers recognize the medication more easily.
Other times, you will see a bottle of medication that has an odd-sounding name. One that you’ve never heard of. Generic brands often label their products this way. That name you’ve never heard before is likely the active ingredient of the name-brand product.
To choose the generic medication that’s right for you, check the name-brand packaging, and look for the active ingredient and dosage. Then, compare the package labels to generic products. Look for one with the same active ingredients in the same dose.
Will A Generic Drug Look Like the Name-Brand Medication?
No, but the difference may be hard to spot. Trademark laws state that generic medications cannot look exactly like the brand-name equivalent, but you may notice a significant resemblance. They might be different in shape or size, or have a different color. Other times, the difference may be so slight that you don’t realize it at all. It may be that the edges are slightly rounded, that the pills are just slightly larger, and so on.
If you are ever unsure of what medication you are purchasing, check with a doctor or pharmacist.
Why Are Generic Medications Less Expensive?
You may be concerned that since a generic drug is much less expensive than a name-brand that it signifies it isn’t as good. The price difference can be quite substantial. Reports state that a generic drug can cost up to 85% less than the name-brand version.
The reason for the price is due to the fact that a generic drug company doesn’t spend money on advertising or fancy packaging. Additionally, when a company develops a name-brand medication, they patent it. While the patent is active, a generic drug company cannot make an equivalent.
But, when the patent expires, generic versions become available. As the name-brand company extensively researched and developed the medication initially, they need to cover that cost through a price mark-up on the shelves. A generic drug company does not need to cover this expense.
Is There Any Reason I Shouldn’t Buy a Generic Drug?
Yes. There are reasons some people should not buy generic medication. Usually, this will not apply to all generics. You should not purchase a generic drug if you are allergic to any of the ingredients, or if the ingredients interfere with another medication you are currently taking. Find out if you should switch to a generic over-the-counter medication and speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
According to FDA guidelines, a generic medication may have different inactive ingredients than a name-brand version. Inactive ingredients include added colors, flavoring, preservatives. Make sure you read the label carefully before you buy to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction to any of the ingredients listed.
The Bottom Line on Generic Medications
Generic meds are just as safe and effective as brand-name drugs and can save you a substantial amount of money. One report states that generic drugs save $253 billion in American healthcare costs annually. Over a decade, that number tops $1.5 billion.
It is easy to find generic medications, as virtually any store that stocks a name-brand is bound to have the less expensive counterpart. If you’re shopping and you’re unsure of which medication is the equivalent, ask a doctor or pharmacist on staff. They can help you find what you’re looking for and inform you of anything to be aware of before you buy it.
You don’t have to shell out big bucks to treat a cold, headache, indigestion, or aches and pains. And you don’t have to sacrifice on quality, either. By buying generic, you get the best of both worlds. You can feel better fast without worrying about whether or not a medication will work.
Do you have more questions regarding generic medications? Let us know below and stay tuned for more content on the topics you care about most.