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Talk Tuesday - Ep.3: Generic vs. Brand Name Meds

October 23, 2020

This week on Talk Tuesdays from my Virtual Physician, we have Dr. Daniel Kessler, a Family Practice Doctor.Before a manufacturer can introduce a new drug to the public, a lot of money goes into the research, development, testing, and marketing. Companies can patent their new medications, and are guaranteed exclusivity to make and sell them for five years. This allows manufacturers to recoup some of the cost associated with getting their new brand name drugs to market. After that time, the patent expires. This means other companies can come along and make and sell the same medication under a different name. This “copy-cat” medication is considered a generic medication.

In many ways a generic medication is like the brand name version. To be approved as a generic drug, the pharmacologic characteristics must be the same as the brand name. Generic medications are the same as the brand name when it comes to:dosages and strengthintended useeffects and side effectsroute of administration active ingredientsBy contrast, generic medications can be approved with different inactive ingredients. So different colors, additives, and fillers may be used to help with binding, flavoring, coloring, transporting, or preserving. That means that your generic medication will likely look different. Trademark laws in the U.S. prevent manufacturers from creating a generic that looks exactly like the brand name. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulates generic drugs that are approved for sale in the United States. It provides a process that ensures the medications are safe, effective, and of sufficient quality. Keep in mind that the FDA also investigates complaints about generic and brand name medications including side effects. They can issue a recall any time there is a concern for safety. There are always risks and benefits associated with any medication. Everybody is different and some more sensitive to differences in the drugs.Because the inactive ingredients are not identical, some individuals may experience differences when taking a generic medication vs, a brand name, but this is not always the case. There have been reports of medications affecting patients differently. For instance, when they feel the onset of effects, how long the medication effects last, and even incidence of side effects. It is important to talk to your physician if you are concerned about a generic medication affecting you differently. Generic medications often cost substantially less than the brand name. Again, the company making the generic medication did not have to pass along the cost associated with getting a new drug to market. When a patient is going to be on a drug long term or even for a lifetime, choosing a generic medication can save thousands of dollars a year in medical expenses. Lower cost may mean better compliance for some patients.

The savings to the individual are important but it doesn’t stop there. When multiple manufacturers are able to make and sell a medication the competition can drive the cost down and makes healthcare more affordable for the public. Generic medications save our healthcare system millions of dollars every year. To learn more, schedule a consultation today!

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