4 Facts about Generic Drugs

The consumer marketplace is saturated with advertising from brandname – or "patented" – drugs. Why, then, do doctors and pharmacists often prescribe generic drugs instead? The answer is simple: Generics provide an equally effective, far less expensive alternative to certain brands.

Brand-name drug makers invest years of research and testing. Manufacturers whose drugs are approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) get a patent and exclusive rights to sell that drug. When the patent expires (typically after 17 years), generic manufacturers may create comparable drugs. So generics go straight to market without the pricey pre-market build-up.

Why choose generic over brand? Because generic drugs:

  1. Contain the same medicine
    Generic drug manufacturers must prove that every generic drug is "bioequivalent" to its counterpart brand-name drug. That means the active ingredients are the same.
  2. Are equally effective 
    The FDA requires that generics have the same strength, dosage form and route of administration as brand-name medicines.
  3. Cost substantially less 
    Generics cost an average of 80–85 percent less than their brand-name counterparts. Generic manufacturers don’t have to invest in costly clinical trials and advertising campaigns, so they are able to pass the savings along to you.
  4. Are monitored by the FDA
    Generic drugs are subject to the same strict levels of FDA testing, approval and oversight as brand-name medications.

4 Facts about Generic Drugs (pdf)