Q: Are generic versions of drugs really just as good (and safe) as
their brand-name counterparts?
A: Yes, for many reasons. Today, almost half of all prescriptions in
the United States are filled with generic drugs. They are less expensive and
often require a lower co-pay if you have insurance, which could mean big cost
savings for you. Generic drug manufacturers don’t have the initial investment
costs associated with development of a new drug. Original manufacturers are
given a patent for their drug to protect their investment, including research,
development, and marketing costs. A generic drug is not available until that
patent expires, about 20 years after the patent is received. Once a generic
version is available, competition helps keep costs down even more.
From the Salmonella saintpaul outbreak which sickened more than 1,400
people in the U.S. to autism and vaccines as well as
bisphenol A in baby bottles, 2008 certainly
generated its share of medical scare stories. We have likely not heard the end
of these stories, but experts from different fields of medicine are now sharing
their predictions about what we will be seeing more -- or less of -- in
By and large, the common thread tying together all the specialties in 2009
is the growth...
What about effectiveness? For the most part, they are just as good as
brand-name drugs. Generics have the same active ingredients; in fact, the FDA
requires that generics be as strong as brand-name drugs and work just as
quickly. They also carry the same risk of side effects. This means that, even
though the shape and size of a generic pill may differ from the brand-name pill
you’re used to, it should work the same in the body.