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Generic Drug Overview

Generic Drugs: Safe, Effective, and FDA Approved

A common myth is that if something costs less, it must not work as well. Drug companies spend millions of dollars to develop and patent brand name drugs, which is one reason why they cost so much. When the patent on a brand name drug expires, generic versions are allowed to be made and usually cost less.

Generic drugs are not like some other generic products, where you may like the brand name product more. Although they may look a little different, generic drugs have the same active ingredients as the brand name drugs they copy. The law requires that generic drugs must be the same quality and work the same way as the brand name versions.

Many brand name drugs have generic equivalents and alternatives available to treat the same medical condition. You may be wondering what the difference is between a generic equivalent and a generic alternative.

A generic equivalent is a generic drug that contains the same active ingredient as the brand name drug. The drug lisinopril, for example, is the generic equivalent of brands Zestril® and Prinivil®. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) thoroughly reviews generic equivalent drugs and requires them to be the same in safety and effectiveness as their brand name counterparts.

A generic alternative, on the other hand, is a generic drug that works similarly to a brand name drug and treats the same condition. For example, the drug lisinopril is a generic alternative to the brand name drug, Altace®. Both drugs are used to lower blood pressure but do not contain the exact same active ingredients.

Some Advantages to taking a Generic Equivalent or Generic Alternative:

Immediate Cost Savings: Generic drugs generally cost less and are usually available at a lower copay than similar brand name drugs.

Long Term Cost Savings: Choosing generic drugs helps keep health care costs lower.

Bottom line: Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about choosing generic drugs. You may be able to get a generic drug that works just as well and costs less!

Last Updated: 06/26/2020