Generic Drugs are the Same as Their Trade Name Equivalents
One of the things that alert medical consumers - that would be almost all of us who are aging and who are prescribed medications - is that if we are given generic drugs they cost a lot less than the older trade-named medicine. Take, for example, Coumadin and warfarin to understand this. The two medicines have the exact same active ingredients, but the trade-name medicine (the one with capital letters) is more expensive; however, they both do the same thing for us in our bodies. The table below lists a number of common medicines by their trade name and generic name.
Why is there such a cost discrepancy (on average 80% more for the trade name than the generic)? The reason is simple. It costs the original pharmaceutical company on average about $200 million to discover a new drug, test it in animals and then man, prove to the FDA that is it safe and effective through clinical trials, and then finally market the drug after it is approved. This process takes about 10 - 15 years of development. The original medicine patent only has a life of 20 years, so in the five or so years that the originator has rights to produce the drug exclusively, it must sell the medicine at a cost that allows recoup of the development cost and makes a profit for the company.
Generic drugs are produced by a different company or in many cases by the original company, but at a vastly lowered cost to the patients since there are very low development costs and there is competition in the market with others when there is no patent in force. The generic pills do look different and often have different non-active ingredients, but must have the identical active pharmaceutical active compound. Generic drugs are the same as the trade named even though they do look different and may taste different. Use of generic drugs saves us billions of dollars each year since about 80% of the medicines we take are of the generic variety.
From time to time there are claims that generic drugs are different, but the FDA is required to make certain that this is not the case and they assiduously make certain that drugs available to us are equivalent, whether generic or trade. Thus, when your physician checks on the prescription that generic equivalents may be used, this is safe and effective for you and saves you and our country lots of money in healthcare costs.
» View an infographic from the FDA comparing generic and trade-name medicines
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