A generic medication is a drug product that has the same active ingredients, strength and dosage form as the brand-name counterpart. It is sold under the chemical or scientific name for the drug instead of the manufacturer’s brand name. Brand name drugs have a twenty-year patent life. Once that patent expires, other manufacturers are free to make the drug in a generic form. The cost of a drug drops between 30-80% once it becomes available as a generic.

generic medicationGeneric medications marketed in the U.S. may differ from their brand-name counterparts in such things as shape, packaging fillers (including colors, flavors, preservatives), expiration time, and, within certain limits, labeling. However, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all drugs, both brand-name and generic medications marketed in the United States, meet the same requirements for quality, strength, purity and potency. The FDA will only approve generic medications that have the same active ingredients and works the same in the body as the brandname counterparts. Only after a brand-name drug loses its patent can other manufactures produce the generic form. Keep in mind that even after a patent expires, some drugs may not be available in generic form, if no manufacturer makes them. Today about ½ or 8730 of the 11,487 drugs listed in the FDA’s Orange Book have generic counterparts. (source FDA, MedAd news). When a manufacturer wants to produce a drug generically, that manufacturer must provide evidence to the FDA that it works in the body just like the brand-name drug and within the same amount of time as the brand-name drug. All medications have risk. The manufacturer of the generic medication must prove to the FDA that the generic is as safe as the brand-name drug. Only a consumer in consultation with their physician can determine if those risks outweigh the benefits in their specific situation. Generic manufacturers must meet the same exact standards as brand-name manufacturers. Brand-name manufacturers account for an estimated 50% of generic drug production. They frequently make copies of their own or other brand-name drugs but sell them without the brand-name designation. The FDA makes over 3,500 inspections a year to ensure that these standards are met in both brand-name and generic manufacturing facilities.

Generic medications represent real value. They usually cost from 30-80% less than their brandname counterparts and, since the FDA is very strict about approving generics, you can be assured that the generic drug you receive is a safe and effective alternative to the brand-name drug.

THE DIFFERENCE

When trying to decide which medication you should choose always consult with your doctor before making any decision. The Doctor can many times help you by answering any questions you may have concerning the prescribed medication.

Well, what is the difference between generic and name brand prescription medications? Much of the time there is no significant difference. Both medications have the same amount of active ingredients, and much of the time they work exactly alike.

Generic medications are also manufactured in the exact same manner as the name brand. And, much of the time it is even at the same facility. Both drugs must adhere to the same regulations and guidelines outlined by the Food and Drug Administration here in the United States.

Basically there are a couple of major differences between generic and brand name prescription drugs. The first of which is the look of the drug, specifically pills. Often the brand name pill is patented meaning the design, shape and color cannot be copied. Even though they are manufactured the same way at the same facility and have much of the same active ingredients they don’t look the same.

The next thing that is different about them which is very significant is the price. Many times, there is a great deal of difference. Generic medications tend to be a lot less expensive than their counterpart. Now just how much difference depends on the type of medication. That is why many times most people who make a visit to the doctor choose the generic brand because it is less expensive and works just as well as its expensive counterpart.

So, if you need a prescription drug always talk to your prescribing doctor because he or she can advise you if there are any significant differences in order for you to make the best decision that is right for you.

PRESCRIPTION GENERICS

generic medicationThe narcotic pain medication hydrocodone/acetaminophen was the most prescribed generic medication for the 12 months ending September 30, 2014, followed by the blood pressure medication lisinopril, according to a new report. Research firm IMS Health compiled the list of the top 10 most-prescribed generic medications for the past year.

Hydrocodonelacetaminophen had approximately 123.3 million prescriptions, followed by lisinopril at about t03 million prescriptions, the hypothyroid medication levothyroxine sodium at about 95 million prescriptions, the cholesterol-lowering medication atorvastatin calcium at just under 77 million prescriptions, and the blood pressure-lowering amlodipine besylate at about 7 6.4 million prescriptions.

The other most prescribed generic drugs in the top 10 are the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin at about 73.5 million prescriptions, the proton pump inhibitor omeprazole (RX) at about 73.2 million prescriptions, the diabetes medication metformin HCL at about 61.2 million prescriptions, the antibiotic amoxicillin at about 53.8 million prescriptions, and the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide at about 49.6 million prescriptions.

In contrast, the top five most prescribed branded drugs over the same time period were rosuvastatin (Crestor, AstraZeneca) with about 22.3 million prescriptions, followed by levothyroxine (synthroid, AbbVie), at about 22.3 million prescriptions; the proton pump inhibitor esomeprazole (Nexittm, AstraZeneca), at about 17.8 million prescriptions; the asthma medications albuterol (Ventolin HFA, GlaxoSmithKline), at about 17.8 million prescriptions; and fluticasone propionate/salmeterol (Advair Diskus, GlaxoSmithKline), at about 14.5 million prescriptions.

The remaining five in the top 10 most prescribed drugs for the period (in order) were the insulin glargine injection (Lantus Solostar, sanofi-aventis), the attention-deficit drug lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse, Shire), the antiepileptic drug pregabalin (Lyrica, Pftzer), the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease medication tiotropium bromide (Spiriva Handihaler, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals), and the antihypertensive drug valsartan (Diovan, Novartis).

OTC GENERICS

Americans are spending a lot of money on aspirin. Consumers in the U.S. spent a whopping $3.9 billion on over-the-counter painkillers in 2014, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. That’s just a small fraction of total spending on non-prescription health products, which totaled $31 billion that year.

One easy way for people to cut costs in health spending is to switch from name-brand drugs to cheaper, store-brand versions of the same products. Making the switch to generic over-the-counter (OTC) medications could save you up to 73%, according to Consumer Reports. But some consumers are hesitant to forgo brand names because they worry that store brands won’t be as effective or safe.

Concerns that generics drugs aren’t as good as other medications are misplaced, say experts. “Most of the time, a generic will work as well for you as the brand name medicine,” assuming that it has the same ingredients as the name-brand products, says the American Academy of Family Physicians. That’s because the FDA requires generic medications to be “chemically identical” to their brand-name counterparts. While it might seem that generic drugs are cheaper because they’re an inferior product, the real reason is because the companies that make them didn’t have to shoulder the cost of developing the medications, nor are they running expensive advertising campaigns to convince patients and doctors to use their products.

People who are still hesitant to switch from their trusty Advil or Tylenol to a generic medicine can take comfort in the findings of a recent study by economists at Brown University and the University of Chicago, which found that doctors and pharmacists preferred generic versions of many OTC medications over name-brand ones. The researchers found that the more informed the consumers were, the more likely they were to buy generic headache remedies and other store brand products. Having a college education, working in the healthcare field, having majored in a science in college, and being able to name the active ingredients in the medication were all associated with a greater willingness to use store brands.

So why do people persist in throwing their money away on more expensive products when the cheaper alternative is just as good? “Consumers may be willing to pay a premium for brands because they overestimate the benefits of the brand, or are otherwise confused or misled,” write the study authors.

That’s a shame, because people could be saving a lot of cash by making some simple adjustments to their shopping habits. The researchers noted a 104% price difference between generic and name-brand aspirin, for example. A quick glance at drug store shelves reveals similarly stark price differences between virtually all name-brand and generic products.

Doctors didn’t prefer generic products in all categories. When shopping for some items, like migraine remedies, contact lens solution, sleeping aids, eye drops, and bandages, doctors tended to choose name brands. NPR’s podcast Planet Money crunched the numbers from the study and came up with a graph showing which products doctors were most likely to buy generic compared to their non-doctor counterparts. We’ve highlighted seven of those items, along with information about how much you might save by switching to a generic. (If you’re thinking about switching to a new OTC medication but aren’t sure whether a generic is right for you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.)

Note: All prices for name-brand and generic drugs are taken from the CVS website. The generic savings represent the percentage difference between the two costs of the same sized product. In the case of different sizes, such as the iron supplements, the percentage difference was calculated per pill.

generic medication1. Tylenol PM (acetaminophen/diphenhydramine)

24 Tylenol PM caplets sell for $6.48 at CVS or $0.27 per pill.

24 CVS Extra-Strength Pain Relief PM caplets cost $3.99, or about $0.17 per pill.

Generic savings: 47.7%

2. Claritin (loratadine)

A 20 tablet box of 24-hour non-drowsy Claritin costs $19.79 at CVS – almost $1 per pill.

A 20-tablet box of CVS-brand non-drowsy allergy relief with the same active ingredient costs $t2.49, or $0.62 per pill.

Generic savings: 45.2%

3. Iron Supplements

A 180-count bottle of 65 mg Nature Made iron tablets costs $14.29, or about $0.08 per pill.

A 200-count bottle of 65 mg iron supplements from CVS costs $10.49, or about $0.05 per pill.

Generic savings: 46.2%

4. Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate)

A 16-ounce container of Pepto-Bismol Liquid Original costs $7.79 at CVS, or roughly $0.49 per ounce.

The same-sized container of CVS-brand Stomach Relief Liquid Original costs $6.29, or roughly $0.39 per ounce.

Generic savings: 21.3%

5. Aleve (naproxen)

A 100-count box of Aleve tablets costs $10.99 at CVS, or $0.11 per pill. The store-brand version is $8.99 for 100 tablets, or $0.09 per pill.

Generic savings: 20%

6. Dulcolax (bisacodyl USP)

25 Dulcolax laxative tablets cost $7.49 at CVS, or $0.30 each.

25 CVS brand laxatives tablets with the same active ingredient cost $6.49, or $0.26 each.

Generic savings: 14.3%

7. Advil (ibuprofen)

A 50-count box of Advil caplets costs $6.49 at CVS, or $0.13 per pill.

A 50-count box of CVS brand ibuprofen caplets costs $6.39, or a little less than $0.13 per pill.

Generic savings: Virtually none (1.6%)

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