If you’ve ever worried over the choice between the brand-name or generic version of a medication, there’s no need. Generic medicines are the same as their brand-name equivalents in terms of safety, effectiveness and quality, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
But the next time you’re making a drug comparison, here’s how to decide when it makes more sense to go with one kind of medication over the other.
The biggest difference between brand-name and generic medications is price. Generic medicines typically cost about 80% to 85% less than their brand-name counterparts.
Why are brand-name medications so much more expensive? Because pharmaceutical companies spend a lot on research and testing to develop them — and then pass that cost on to consumers. Companies also must pay to get these medications patented, which means only they can sell the medication to the public.
Patents last 20 years, after which other companies can make generic versions of the medication, skipping over the upfront research costs that made the brand-name original pricier. This gives consumers more options if they can’t afford the brand-name version.
Generic medications undergo a rigorous testing process with the FDA to ensure they can be used in place of a brand-name medication.
Generic medications must be “pharmaceutically equivalent” to the brand-name versions, meaning they must have the same clinical benefit. Before a generic medication comes to the market, it must pass certain FDA standards. These include verifying that a generic medication has the same active ingredient and the same strength as the brand-name version, and that it’s manufactured using the same standards.
Choosing Between Them
If both types of medication are effectively the same, then how can you pick which one is better for you? The main factor your drug comparison should take into consideration is price. Relying on a brand-name medication for a prescription you refill on a monthly basis could get really expensive over time. However, if cost isn’t a factor or the price difference is small, then whether you choose to use a brand-name or generic medication is essentially a matter of preference.
Let this information help guide your choice, but know that when it comes down to it, either option will do the job right. If only all of life’s questions came with no wrong answer!