Generic drugs differ in size and color from the more expensive brand-name drugs, but they are produced from exactly the same substances and effect our bodies in the same way. There is no difference in the way they are produced, and they are guaranteed to be of the same potency, purity, stability, and quality of brand-name medications. New products are protected under a patent which lasts for 20 years, during which time generic drugs can be sold by other companies as the length of the patent draws to a close. Generic drugs are an effective, affordable, and popular alternative to brand-name drugs which can be more costly in comparison.
The purpose of this page is to provide general information on the utilization of generic drugs and other medications but is NOT medical advice. For any questions or concerns with your medication – always consult your attending physician.
Generic Drugs – Frequently Asked Questions
A generic drug is a copy of a brand-name drug. It works the same as the brand-name drug. Below are some common questions regarding generic drugs.
Are generic drugs as safe as brand-name drugs?
Yes. In order for a medication to be approved, it first has to be deemed both safe and effective by the FDA. Like brand-name drugs, generic drugs are comprised of the same substances and work in exactly the same way in the body as the more expensive brand-name drugs. Because they are the same, they come with the same risks and benefits of the brand-name drugs.
Are they as effective as the brand-name drugs?
Yes. The FDA also requires that generic drugs match brand-name drugs in strength, purity, and stability. They also must be of the same quality.
Will it take longer for a generic drug to take effect in my body?
No. Because they work the same way in our bodies as the brand-name drugs, they work in the same amount of time.
Why do they cost less?
New drugs become patented, which gives the company who created it sole rights to sell it for a specific amount of time. This is done in order to protect the creator of the medication, in addition to helping pay to research, develop, and market the product. When the patent on a product is soon to expire, a company has the option to apply with the FDA in order to sell a generic version. This is a popular practice, since generic companies are not responsible for the same upfront costs associated with researching and developing a new product.
Because they do not have to spend money creating the new product, they can then in turn sell the product for a cheaper price.
Also, once a generic product is approved, more people are interested in purchasing it. This also contributes to the prices staying low. Not surprisingly, more than half of prescriptions filled today are generic drugs.
Are brand-name products produced in nicer facilities?
No. Because both brand-name and generic products must meet the same standards of quality, they are manufactured oftentimes in the same factories. The FDA would not allow products to be made in poor conditions, and therefore they inspect on average 3,500 factories per year to guarantee these standards are met.
Why do the products differ in appearance?
In the United States, it is illegal for a generic drug and a brand-name drug to be identical. Despite the difference in appearance, the same substances are used in both products. Differentiating parts can include colors, flavors, and other inactive elements.
Does every brand-name drug have a generic alternative?
No. The protection of a patent lasts 20 years. Other drugs companies can create other generics once that patent has expired. Before this can happen, they must first be tested by the maker and gain approval from the FDA.
Where is the best place to find information regarding generic drugs?
For the most reliable information concerning generic drugs, consult with your physician, pharmacist, or insurance company.