Important information about generic drugs

Who is this for?

Michigan Health Insurance – Customer Service – Pharmacy

If you’re wondering whether generic drugs are as good as brand name drugs, or you just want to learn more about them, you’ll find that information here.

What’s the difference between generic and brand-name drugs?

Drugs have generic names and brand names. For example, the generic name of Prilosec is omeprazole. Prilosec owned exclusive rights to sell the drug because they created it and patented it. Once their patent expired, other manufacturers could make and sell Prilosec. They just have to call it by its generic name, omeprazole. Besides that, not much is different.

Are the ingredients the same?

Yes, the active ingredients are the same. You get the same strength and dosage as the brand-name product, and they’re just as safe and effective. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tests each generic drug. The manufacturer must develop their generics using the same standards as their brand-name counterpart. If it doesn't, the FDA will not approve its release.

The FDA approves a generic drug if it:

  • Contains the same active ingredients as the brand-name drug
  • Treats the same medical condition
  • Is identical in strength, purity, quality, dosage form and route of administration. So, the method by which someone takes the drug must also be the same
  • Absorbs into the bloodstream at a similar rate and over the same period of time as the brand-name drug

Who manufactures generic drugs?

Generic drugs are often manufactured by companies that also make brand-name drugs. The FDA regulates and inspects all drug manufacturers and all drugs sold in the U.S. If any marketed products fail to meet their production standards, they’ll recall them. They hold generic drugs to the same standard.

What are the advantages of using generic drugs?

The biggest advantage is the price. You can save as much as 90 percent over the cost of brand-name medications. Generics average 40 to 60 percent less than brand-name drugs. That’s a real plus for older adults on a fixed income who take numerous medications.

Ask your physician or pharmacist if it’s possible to fill your prescription with a generic. By using generic drugs whenever possible, you can lower your prescription drug costs. You’ll also get the same strength, dosage and quality as the brand-name drug.

Do hospitals and doctors support the use of generic drugs?

Hospitals and physicians often use generic drugs. They also prescribe generics more than brand-name drugs. In fact, generics make up more than 80 percent of prescriptions filled in the U.S.

Read How to save money on prescription drugs to learn more about generics and how they reduce costs.