Are generic drugs inferior?

If your relative is taking brand-name prescription drugs, a
switch to generic could provide significant savings.

Why are brand-name
drugs so expensive?

It takes a lot of money and time to develop a new drug. In
particular, it must be tested to show it works and is safe for humans. Patent
laws give an innovator company 10 to 20 years to sell the drug with no
competition. When the patent expires, any company can develop the generic
equivalent. It is less expensive because they don’t have to repeat the testing.

The Food and Drug
Administration approves both brand-name and generic drugs. The two medicines
are identical in

  • active ingredient(s), strength, quality, safety, and how they work
  • required lab testing to prove they are absorbed 80%–120% as well as the original (the average tends to be 96%–104%)
  • manufacturing standards that ensure consistency and purity

Brand-name and
generic drugs are different in

  • inactive ingredients. Think fillers, binders, colors, and flavorings
  • appearance, such as shape, size, and color
  • clinical testing on humans. This is not required for generics
  • name. The generic’s name is scientific as it was not created for advertising

biggest difference is cost.
Generic drugs cost about 66%–85% less than their
brand-name equivalents.  

Is there a downside
to generics?
Not generally. Some consumers in online forums write that the
generic has not worked as well. But there is no scientific evidence or study to
explain or support these personal reports. Others mention more or different
side effects. There may be some validity to this. Pharmaceutical companies are
always looking to reduce side effects. Perhaps the latest version has a new
twist that is enough to make it easier for your loved one to take. With no generic
version available, this brand-name update might be worth the extra cost.

Consult with the doctor or pharmacist if you are
considering a switch.

Worried about the high cost of medicines?
You are not alone. As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates hear the concerns of many families around this issue. To explore cost-saving options, give us a call at 301-593-5285.