Your daily medications are indispensable – but if you’re like most Americans, you could do without the hefty price tags.
About 62% of adults say they take at least one prescription medication a day, and about 80% of adults say that the cost of their prescription drugs is “unreasonable.” Even more alarming, 32% of people taking four or more prescription drugs say they have difficulty affording their medications.
As a result, most of us are looking for ways to cut prescription costs – without sacrificing quality or safety. This brings us to today’s blog topic: generic vs brand-name drugs.
If you’ve ever stood before a pharmacy counter or received a prescription, you’ve likely noticed that brand-name medicines also come in generic packaging. The question is, what distinguishes these two categories from each other, and which one should you purchase?
At Klingensmith’s, our mission is to empower you with the knowledge you need to make informed choices about your health. We want you to understand all of your prescription options, so here’s what you need to know about the difference between generic and branded medicines.
What Are Generic Medications?
Generic medications are essentially off-brand versions of well-known brand-name drugs. However, there is no difference in quality between generic and brand-name drugs.
These generic pharmaceuticals are designed with the same ingredients, dosage, and structure as their brand-name counterparts. In most cases, they only differ in terms of their name, appearance, and pricing.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rigorous standards for generic drugs, requiring them to meet the same quality and performance standards as their original. To be approved by the FDA, they must go through a strict process to ensure that they are bioequivalent to the brand-name drug and have the same therapeutic benefits.
The biggest advantage of using generic medicines is their cost-effectiveness. One example of this is Lipitor, a popular drug used to control high cholesterol. Brand-name Lipitor costs about $13.10 per unit. Its generic equivalent, Atorvastatin, typically costs between $0.50-$1.00 per unit. This price differential is not an anomaly, but rather a general trend across the pharmaceutical industry.
Additionally, generic drugs tend to be widely available and easily accessible. Pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals carry a wide range of generic drugs to ensure that more people can access the medication they need (without breaking the bank).
How Are Brand-Name Medications Different?
Brand-name medications are the original drugs developed and marketed by pharmaceutical companies. These companies invest significant resources into the research, development, and promotion of these medicines, and they are often higher in cost as a result.
One of the potential differences between brand-name and generic medications lies in their inactive ingredients. Inactive ingredients help deliver the active ingredients to your body safely but don’t contribute to the drug’s therapeutic effect. While the active ingredients remain the same, inactive ingredients like binders, fillers, and coloring agents may vary.
Interestingly, there tends to be a higher level of trust in brand-name medications among the public. This perception is likely influenced by factors like marketing, familiarity, and perceived quality. Studies have found that roughly 3 in 10 Americans believe brand-name drugs are more effective than generics.
However, this is a perception of generic medications vs brand names, rather than a reality backed by scientific evidence.
Differences in Medication Research and Development
Much of the prestige of brand-name medications comes from the extensive and highly publicized research and development they undergo before reaching the market. These medications are conceived from groundbreaking research and are tested through rigorous clinical trials. They’re also subjected to stringent safety testing procedures.
This lengthy process validates their safety and effectiveness, and many physicians prefer recommending them due to their reputation. Additionally, brand-name medications are typically available before generic drugs.
The FDA can approve the generic version of a branded medication only once the patent protection for the drug expires – which can take up to 20 years. Therefore, patients and doctors may not always have the option of using a generic medication if the branded option is relatively new.
However, the idea that generic medications aren’t as safe or effective as brand-name drugs is a total misconception. The term generic is often misleading, as these medications provide the same therapeutic effect as the original and have been designated as “bioequivalent” by the FDA. This means that patients can trust their performance.
Additionally, many generic pharmaceutical manufacturers are owned by or operate alongside a brand-name pharmaceutical company. The fact that these brand-name manufacturers also produce generic medications further reinforces their quality and trustworthiness.
How You Can Make Informed Decisions
When comparing generic medications vs brand names, many patients want to strike a balance between getting the best possible treatment and finding cost-effective solutions. Educating yourself and taking a proactive approach will make this process easier.
Always consult with your healthcare providers when selecting medications. Your doctors, pharmacists, and nurses are valuable resources. They will be happy to explain the differences between specific brand-name and generic drugs and how each could affect your health situation.
Also, weigh the pros and cons of each medication. Consider the ingredients in each medication and their potential side effects, as well as the cost and availability of each option. Remember: both brand-name and generic drugs have been through rigorous testing to ensure their safety and efficacy.
Lastly, consider your individual needs and preferences. For example…
- Do you have allergies that might react to the inactive ingredients in a specific drug?
- How does each drug fit into your budget?
- Is the drug readily available in your area, or would you face long wait times at the pharmacy?
- How often do you need to take the drug?
- Would the dosage make sense for your lifestyle?
These personal factors are all equally important in making an informed decision about your medication, whether it’s generic or brand-name.
Turn to Klingensmith’s for All Your Prescription Needs
Navigating the world of prescription drugs can be daunting. Take time to understand how generic and brand-name medications can empower you to make the best choices for your health.
At Klingensmith’s Drug Stores, we’re here to support you with expert pharmaceutical knowledge and a customer-focused approach. We’re on your side, and we want to ensure you have access to the prescriptions you need.
As a leading Pennsylvania pharmacy, we offer both generic and brand-name medications. We’re here to meet your individual healthcare needs while also taking your budget into account. Our pharmacists go beyond filling prescriptions and are committed to being your trusted partners in healthcare.
We also want to make quality medication more affordable for our customers. With our VIP program, you’ll receive access to exclusive discounts and promotions when you shop with us, including discounts on your medications.
Do you have questions about our prescription services or generic medications vs brand names? Our team of pharmacy professionals is always here to help.