You’re standing in a pharmacy looking for a standard pain reliever when you’re faced with the choice of buying either the brand-name or the generic brand. Although the generic brand is cheaper, you decide to go with the brand-name medication because you assume it works better. But, this isn’t actually the case. When it comes to drugs, brand-name and generic name medications are much more similar than a lot of people think. In fact, when it comes to the effects of the medication, there isn’t much of a difference between the two at all.  

The truth is generic brand medications work just as well as name-brand medications. In fact, generic medications must be passed by the FDA in order to be sold. The FDA has very strict guidelines when it comes to generic brand medications. Some of these guidelines include:

  • The generic drug must have the same active ingredients as the name-brand drug. It must also have the same strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the name-brand drug.
  • Generic drugs must be bioequivalent to the name-brand drug. This means that the generic drug must have the same effect as the name-brand and must come into effect in the same amount of time as the brand-names.
  • Both generic and brand-name drugs must pass the same quality standards. These standards take into account the drug’s manufacturing, packaging, and testing sites.

In order for a generic brand medication to be passed, the drug must be almost identical to its branded counterpart. In a FDA evaluation, it was found that there was only a 3.5% difference in generic and branded drugs’ absorption into the body. In another study done on heart medications, it was found that the generic heart medication worked just as well as the brand-name drug.

Even so, generic and brand-name medications are not exactly alike. The main difference between the two drugs are the inactive ingredients ,or, the filler ingredients. These ingredients make it so that the medications can have substantial doses, since the active ingredients are rarely enough to fill a medication capsule. Medications can use ingredients that are pre-approved like starch or lactose. Because of the difference in inactive ingredients, generic and brand-name drugs can vary in appearances.

Another big factor in proving that generic drugs and name-brand drugs are extremely similar is that most drugs administered by a pharmacist are usually generic. In fact, about 8 out of 10 prescriptions are for generic brand drugs. So, even if you never bought an over-the-counter generic drug, you’ve most likely used a generic prescription drug.  

 
So, why do most prescriptions call for generic drugs? Because they’re more affordable. Generic drug prices can be as much as 80% lower than brand-name prices. As a result, studies have found that patients who are prescribed generic drugs from the start are more likely to stick to their medications.

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