On average, prescription drug costs in the U.S. are the highest in the
world, but that doesn't mean that there aren't relative bargains to be had.
For example, a recent FDA study shows that generic drugs may in some cases
be cheaper in the U.S. than either the brand-name or generic versions of the
same drug sold in Canada. Generic drugs account for half of all prescription
drugs sold in the U.S.
By Virginia Sole-SmithDo you really need to eat breakfast every day? Here, five
"must-do's" you can think twice about.
Don't tell your mother we said so, but she wasn't right about everything --
at least not when it comes to your health. Research shows that some of those
habits you've been told to maintain aren't backed up by much evidence, or even
plain old common sense. Five "must-do's" you can think twice about:
FDA analysts compared drug prices in the U.S. and Canada for seven
best-selling generic prescription drugs for
chronic conditions, such as anxiety disorders, seizure disorders,
high blood pressure, depression, heart failure, and
type 2 diabetes.
"For six of the seven drugs, the U.S. generics were priced lower than
the brand-name versions in Canada. Five of the seven U.S. generic drugs were
also cheaper than the Canadian generics. Of the remaining two U.S. generic
drugs, one (enalapril for high
blood pressure) was unavailable in Canada generically, and its Canadian
brand-name version was more than five times the price of the U.S. generic
equivalent. The other U.S. generic (metformin for type 2 diabetes) sold for
less in Canada both as a generic and as a brand name," writes Linda Bren in
the July-August 2004 issue of FDA Consumer magazine.
The FDA defines a generic drug as "a copy that is the same as a
brand-name drug in dosage, safety, strength, how it is taken, quality,
performance, and intended use." Under Federal regulations, generics have to
be comparable to the original in all important aspects such as potency, speed
of action, duration of drug effect, purity of the compound, and stability
Generics are cheaper than the originals because the manufacturers don't have
the same costs associated with developing and bringing a new drug to market. In
addition, because many different manufacturers can produce a generic drug,
competition drives the price lower. For example, several different companies in
the U.S. and abroad now manufacture the over-the-counter pain reliever
ibuprofen, which started life as the prescription drug Motrin. Similarly
generic versions of the decongestant pseudoephedrine now crowd drugstore
shelves side-by-side with the Sudafed brand.