If you've had a prescription filled recently, there's a good chance you're taking a generic drug. Almost 80% of prescription drugs sold are generics. That option helps save patients and hospitals billions of dollars every year.
It's estimated that you could save at least two-thirds of your drug costs if you use generic drugs.
According to the FDA, generic drugs can be trusted to have the same quality as brand-name drugs -- but at a cheaper price. That's important to know because no one wants to skimp on health, even if it means saving money.
How Are Generics the Same as Brand-Name Drugs?
The FDA requires a generic drug to meet standards that ensure it's the same basic product as the brand-name drug. That means the generic drug is safe and can be taken:
- The same way as a brand-name drug
- For the same reason as a brand-name drug
For the FDA to approve a generic drug, it must be the same as the brand-name product in:
- Active ingredient
- Use and effect
- How you take it (for example as a pill, inhaler, or liquid)
- Ability to reach the required level in the bloodstream at the right time and to the same extent
- Testing standards
How Are Generics Different From Brand-Name Drugs?
Some differences between generics and brand-name drugs are allowed. These may change the look of the drug. But they don’t affect how it works or its safety.
Generic drugs may differ in:
- Labeling (minor differences)
Generic drugs are allowed to have different inactive ingredients than brand-name drugs. For example, they may have a different:
The inactive ingredients in a generic, though, must be considered safe by the FDA.
Generic drugs may also have a different expiration date than brand-name drugs. But even so, the generic must keep its effectiveness until its expiration date, just like a brand-name product.
Why Are Generic Drugs Cheaper Than Brand-Name Drugs?
You may be wondering how a generic drug can be sold at a much lower price than a brand-name drug.
The difference in price has to do with the different costs drugmakers have in bringing generics and brand-name drugs to the pharmacy shelf.