Forty four percent of all prescriptions written in the United States are filled as generics.

Generics can cost 30 to 90% less than branded medications.

How do branded medications become generic:

  • New drugs are developed by innovators.
  • Patents protect these companies’ investments by giving them sole rights to produce and sell the medication.
  • When patents are near expiration other manufacturers can apply to the FDA to sell generic versions.

Commonly asked questions about generics:

  • What are generics? They are simply a copy of the original drug.
  • Are generics safe? Yes, the FDA regulates all generic manufacturers similar to brand name manufacturers.
  • Are generics as strong as their branded counterparts? Yes, the FDA regulates generics to be within a very small percentage of the strength of the branded product.
  • Why are generics cheaper? The generic manufacturer does not have the investment costs the branded company had to put up: research, development, marketing and promotion. Also competition among many generic manufacturers drives the price down as well.
  • Where are generics made? Fifty percent of generic drugs are produced or linked to the original brand company. The FDA conducts inspections of all generic and brand name companies.
  • Why do generics look different from the branded version? Trademark laws require that the generics do not look like the original branded medication.
  • Does every brand name medication have a generic? No, because the patent on a branded drug lasts for 20 years and can be extended for variations of the original drug.

There are very few exceptions to not substitute a brand name for a generic.

Two medications where I recommend not substituting a branded for a generic:

  • Synthroid/Levoxyl thyroid medications have very small increments between doses and potency can vary from one generic company to the next.
  • Coumadin blood thinner medication has small graduations of dosage and requires it’s effectiveness to be measured routinely. Potency can vary from one generic company to the next.

Other than these two medications, you can be confident your generic medication is safe, strong enough, as effective and cheaper then the branded counterpart.