Who loves paying 60% more for the same product?
When it comes to medications, no one wants to compromise on quality. But just because generic drugs are more affordable than the brand name versions, does it mean they are of poorer quality?
The FDA is clear that generic drugs contain the same active ingredient, at the same dosage, as their brand name counterparts. With generic vs brand drugs, feel free to make the switch — there’s no difference in the quality of the product.
Are you interested in learning how to safely save money on your medications? This guide is for you. Learn everything you need to know about generic and brand name drugs, plus tips on how to make the switch safely.
What Are Generic vs Brand Drugs
A generic drug is any medication that contains the same drug, at the same concentration, as a medication that is already on the market. It’s a copycat version of an already existing medication.
In order to gain the FDA’s approval, the generic version has to have the exact same clinical effect as the original, brand name medication. That means they’re just as effective as the brand name ones.
So why do many people prefer the brand name version? For the same reason that you might prefer Levi’s to other jeans or Heinz to other kinds of ketchup: brand loyalty.
Drug companies know that generic versions of their drugs will emerge. So, they want to create loyalty to their version of the drug, so that they can continue to sell it at higher prices.
But, while Heinz might actually be the best-tasting ketchup on the store shelf, there’s no quality difference between a generic and a brand name drug. If a drug is on the market, it has to pass the FDA’s stringent requirements for safety and efficacy, and that means that generic drugs are clinically the same as branded ones.
Why Do Generic Drugs Have Different Names?
If you’re taking a drug with a familiar name, you might be concerned about switching to something that sounds different. But there’s no cause to worry.
Just like you call your facial tissues Kleenex (even if you have Puffs brand tissues on hand), some drug brand names are so commonly known that we think of them instead of the drug’s generic name.
For instance, alprazolam, a commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drug, is sold by the company Pfizer. You probably know it better by its trade name: Xanax.
Drug companies patent their medications with catchy names to increase brand loyalty. But generic versions are still the same drug. If you’re taking a medication that goes by a brand name instead of a trade name, you could save money by switching to the generic version.
Why Are Brand Name Drugs More Expensive?
There are lots of costs associated with developing a new drug, including developing the drug, testing it to make sure it is safe, and marketing it to the public. That means that when a drug company launches a new medication, they need to make up for these costs, so their drug prices are higher.
But when other companies make generic versions of that drug, they don’t have to go through the development or testing process, so they have fewer costs to cover. That means they can sell their generic version at a more competitive price.
Why Do Generic Drugs Look Different?
The FDA requires drug companies to make their medications look different than the ones already on the market.
This helps drug companies to maintain their unique brand. For instance, even if you don’t know what the drug sildenafil does, you have probably heard of “the little blue pill.” Viagra is known by what it looks like just as much as by what it does.
If you change from a brand name medication to a generic version, be aware that you’ll see a difference in the appearance of the drug. If it’s a pill, it will have a different size, shape, or color. If it’s an injection or patch, it will come in a differently-colored box or syringe.
Making the Switch from Brand Name to Generic Drugs
If you’ve decided to save money by switching to the generic version of your medication, it’s important to do so safely. Here are our top tips on how to make the change.
1. Know Your Medication by Name, Not By Sight
Many people get to know their medications by the way they look instead of by their name. But when it comes time to switch to a different brand, this can be dangerous.
If you only know your medication as “the white oval pill,” you’re going to be confused when it changes to a different color or shape. And that confusion can lead you to forget which medications you are supposed to take.
Stay safe by learning your medications by their generic names instead of their appearance. If needed, use an online tool to help you identify your medication. Never take a medication if you are not completely sure what it is.
2. Let Your Doctor Know
As with all medical decisions, keep your doctor informed. If you are looking for a more cost-effective alternative to a prescription drug, feel free to ask your primary care provider. He or she might be able to suggest the right alternative for you.
3. Find a Trusted Source
If you’re making the switch, make sure you find a reliable source to buy generic prescription drugs. With the online world open to you, there’s no need to be limited to what your local drugstore has to offer. Find affordable options from a trusted online source to save money.
Making the Right Health Choice for You
It’s easy and safe to swap the brand name price tag of your medications for the more affordable version, without any change in quality. With this guide, you can understand generic vs brand drugs, and be confident in making the switch.
Want more insights on staying healthy? Check out out the rest of our blog for more advice on health, fitness, and financial wellness.