Drugs and alcohol Your Health & Wellness

Four things you may not know about generic drugs

Written by Diane Archer

Tylenol, Advil, Lipitor are common household names. And, millions of people buy them, along with many other brand name drugs. But, according to Consumer Reports, the generic versions of these drugs are virtually no different, and they often cost as little as one-tenth as much. Generic drugs are a safe and effective alternative to brand name drugs.

To save money on your drugs, find out whether the brand-name drugs you are taking have generic alternatives. If so, talk to your doctor about switching to a lower-cost generic drug that is as safe and effective. (Be sure to share a list of the drugs you are taking, prescription and over the counter, to make sure they are safe for you; they may be dangerous in combinationand some drugs, such as NSAIDS, e.g. Aleve and Advil, should be taken in moderation to lessen risk of stroke and heart attack.)

Here are four things you may not know about generic drugs, all required by the Food and Drug Administration:

  1. Generic drugs must have the same active ingredients in the same strength as brand name drugs. Each generic drug must be the “bioequivalent” of the brand name drug, delivering the same strength ingredients at the same time.
  2. Generic drugs must have the same purity and stability as brand name drugs.
  3. Generic drugs must come in the same form—e.g., tablet, liquid—as brand name drugs.
  4. Generic drugs must have the same therapeutic effect as brand name drugs with the same risks and benefits.

The main reason generic drugs cost less than brand-name drugs is that manufacturers do not bear the cost of developing them and generally do not spend money advertising them.

Perhaps the biggest difference between brand name and generic drugs is that they do not look the same. They cannot by law. Inactive ingredients can also be different. As a result, a small percent of people can be allergic to the inactive ingredients in a generic drug.

Of course, there are many drugs we need that are enormously expensive and for which there are no generic alternatives. That’s why the top policy issue for Americans is government drug price negotiation.  And, even doctors have allied to advocate for lower cancer drug prices. Unless the government steps in to negotiate drug prices, an increasing number of people will be unable to afford their prescriptions even with insurance. Today, more than half a million Americans spend more than $50,000 a year on their drugs.

If you support government drug price negotiation, please sign this petition.

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