Are you a true believer in generic medications? If you’re not, do you know why? You may be affected by the brand influence on medication, or you may have questions regarding the difference between generic and name-brand drugs. Both of these are valid sentiments. We’re here to provide a transparent guide on generic medications, including the benefits, the downsides, and the facts.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should purchase a medication that isn’t name-brand, find out if switching to a generic version may be right for you. Then, keep reading to learn what’s what about the safety and effectiveness, side effects, what to look for, and why you should consider purchasing generic medication. It may be well worth it for you and your family.
How Long Have Generic Drugs Been Around?
Generic medications are not a new phenomenon. Stores across the country have sold generic versions of medicine for more than 100 years. The wide availability of non-name-brand medication provides consumers with a wide variety of options to choose from when shopping. It gives you the ability to compare prices and find a drug that best suits your needs.
Over the years, the prevalence of generic medications has significantly increased. Today, almost 100% of brand name medications find themselves competing with generic drug manufacturers as soon as their patent expires. Reports estimate that the option to buy generic saves Americans anywhere from $8 billion to $10 billion every year, and generic medications account for nearly 50% of all drugs on the market.
What to Look for in a Generic Medication
Before you decide to purchase a generic version of a medication, there are things to keep in mind. Don’t go grabbing just any generic with the same active ingredient off the shelf and bring it home. Especially if you have children.
Many medications come in different doses, and generic drug manufacturers follow suit. For example, Diphenhydramine HCI is a common active ingredient in over-the-counter allergy medications. However, the medication comes in different doses. You may have a version with a dose of 50mg or 25mg. If you buy a generic version that is 25mg when your brand-name version contains 50mg, you may not see the same effect.
Before buying generic medication, check the dose of the active ingredient in your brand-name version. When shopping, be sure to check the dosage on the generic med to make sure it compares to the brand-name you’re accustomed to buying. Similarly, children often require lower doses of medication than adults. Check your kids’ medication bottles to see what dose they are and be cognizant when shopping for generic versions.
Some individuals report that different versions of the same medication cause unpleasant side effects. Some people experience stomach upset with one version of a medicine but not with another, for example. The reason this happens is that it’s possible to have an adverse reaction to an inactive ingredient. Inactive ingredients can vary between name-brand drugs and different generic versions.
If you know that you are sensitive to a particular ingredient, look for a generic version that does not have it listed. When looking at products like generic infant formula, this is especially important to avoid an upset tummy in a baby. Take this quick quiz to see if switching to generic baby formula might be right for you.
Finding a High-Quality Generic
All generic medications go through an FDA approval process, just as brand-name versions. They are held to the same high standards and must be just as safe and as effective to hit the shelves. For this reason, you must buy generic medications from a reputable source.
Do not order generic medications off questionable websites. Stick to drugstores, supermarkets, and verified online sources to ensure that you are getting a drug that has FDA approval. When ordering online, make sure that the website has an actual address listed for headquarters, a phone number where you can reach them, and a pharmacist on staff that you can speak with if need be.
Finding the Right Generic Medication for Your Symptoms
Another important factor to consider when purchasing a generic medication is finding the correct one based on your symptoms. Again, checking the active ingredient in your brand-name version is key, as that is what treats each medical condition. Many name-brand medications have different versions of the same drug. They may have the classic version and then a variation that also contains a decongestant or a sleep-aid. Generic medicines are the same way.
If you are searching for the correct generic drug to treat minor aches and pains, learn the difference between acetaminophen and ibuprofen to determine what to purchase. If you are looking to treat a cold, you may need to find a version of the medication containing a decongestant.
How to Find the Correct Version of a Generic Medication
Today, both name-brand and generic drugs make it easy for individuals to identify which active ingredients do what. Look at the label on your medication and search for the box that reads “Active Ingredients.” Here you will find a list of the ingredients, and in parenthesis what each ingredient does.
For example, you may see “pain reliever” listed next to an ingredient, or “expectorant.” To make sure you buy the best generic medication to treat your symptoms, make a list of the ingredients your name-brand version has. If you have a name-brand version that contains an expectorant or decongestant, look for the generic version of the medication that also lists those ingredients. Otherwise, you likely won’t receive the same effects and may be left with a stuffy nose even when your fever goes away.
Who Can Benefit from Using Generic Drugs?
Unless a doctor advises otherwise, or you have an adverse reaction to an ingredient in a particular medication, anyone can benefit from using generic drugs. Additionally, it can help save a substantial amount of money on healthcare costs.
There are generic medications available for virtually every health problem. From stomach aches, headaches, and cold and flu symptoms to allergy meds and sleep aids, there are generic medications that can treat you as effectively as name-brand counterparts.
If you’re shopping and you’re unsure of what to purchase, ask your doctor or the pharmacist on-staff.