Five Questions about Generic Drugs

July 5, 2019
Despite many myths about their effectiveness and safety, generic drugs have been proven to be just as valid as brand-name drugs. Find out more in this article.

Is it true that generic drugs are less effective than brand-name drugs? Do they really work?

Throughout this article, we’ll answer these common questions and more about generic drugs.

However, first we need to start by talking about what they are.

Background on Generic Drugs

Lots of people have doubts and questions about this type of medication

A generic drug is a medication created to be the same as an existing approved brand-name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, and performance characteristics.

If something is generic, it will often be labeled a pharmaceutical equivalent.That way, you know it’s a generic drug.

However, despite their popularity, there is still a lot of controversy around generic drugs. Additionally, there are lots of myths around them, and we’ll explain them later.

In this article, we’ll answer five frequently asked questions about generic drugs:

  • What’s the difference between a generic and a brand-name drug?
  • Do generic drugs have the same quality as brand-name drugs?
  • Are generic drugs really cheaper?
  • What are their advantages?
  • Is it true that generic drugs contain up to 20% less active substances?

1. Whats’s the Difference Between a Generic and Brand-Name Drug?

The main difference between generic drugs and the brand-name ones is what they look like. However, this does not mean that they work significantly lessas many people may think.

Another difference you’ll notice is the name of the medicine. Generic medicine will be named based on its active ingredient. An example of this is paracetamol.

In pharmacies, you can find paracetamol, which is the generic version. On the other hand, you can also find Gelocatil, which is the brand name of a medicine that contains paracetamol as an active ingredient.

Generic drugs have the same main ingredients as the name-brands.

However, generic medications can’t go on the market until the patent for the original drug expires. In addition, they need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Therefore, more than anything, it’s a matter of appearance, brand recognition and patent…not efficacy.

2. Do Generic Drugs Have the Same Quality as Brand-Name Drugs?

Yes, the quality is the same. The main differences are the ones that we’ve already mentioned, and they have nothing to do with drugs’ efficacy.

Generic drugs are guaranteed to have the same quality, since both generic and brand-name medications have to go through the same processesAdditionally, they both have to be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Maybe you’re interested: Your Guide to Anti-Anxiety Medications

3. Are Generic Drugs Really Cheaper?

Although there isn’t a single company or group that sets prices for generic medications, the prices are typically considerably lower than the brand-name alternative.

Additionally, you don’t need to pay a huge amount for research costs. However, as you already know, just because they are cheaper does not mean that are less quality.

4. What Are Their Advantages?

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Based on the previous question, the main advantage is that they are much cheaper than brand-name medications. In fact, you can even save up to 60% compared to the price of the original.

The price difference is due to the fact that generics don’t have an impact on the investments made by each pharmaceutical company to discover a new drug.

Discover: The Eastern Philosophy to Save Money at Home

5. Is It True that Generic Drugs Contain Up To 20% Less Active Substances?

No, this is definitely not true. There is variability whatsoever in the efficacy of the medication, or in the actual amount of the active ingredient.

However, there may be 20% variability in how your body absorbs it. That said, this variation occurs with any medication, whether generic or not. This is because when researchers do bio-availability studies, they always must admit that they vary by 20%Therefore, this variability can happen with any medication.

This means that, even though the total amount of active ingredients is exactly the same, the absorption may vary. Additionally, that’s what all studies take into account before selling generic drugs on the market.

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  • Anand, O., Yu, L. X., Conner, D. P., & Davit, B. M. (2011). Dissolution Testing for Generic Drugs: An FDA Perspective. The AAPS Journal. https://doi.org/10.1208/s12248-011-9272-y
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  • Borgherini, G. (2003). The bioequivalence and therapeutic efficacy of generic versus brand-name psychoactive drugs. Clinical Therapeutics. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0149-2918(03)80157-1