Generic vs. Name-Brand Drugs

generic name brand drugs

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Without insurance, prescription drugs can be quite expensive. In 2020, the United States spent 358.7 billion dollars on prescription drugs. Although generic brands account for a large percentage of filled prescriptions, most of the spending on medications is attributed to brand-name drugs. With two options to choose from when filling your prescription, it is important to understand the differences and similarities between the two.

What are generic drugs?

Generic medications contain the same active ingredients as the original brand. They are also available, on average, for about 85 percent less than the cost of brand-name prescriptions. After the brand-name drug patent expires, generics are allowed to compete.

In order to enter the market, the generic medication must go through an FDA approval process where it must meet quality, safety, and effectiveness standards. They must prove they are bioequivalent to the brand name version. Bioequivalence means that the generic works the same and provides similar benefits.

Is there a difference between generic and name-brand drugs?

Generic medications go through a series of tests that ensure their effectiveness before being approved by the FDA. They are required to have the same active ingredients and provide the same benefits.

However, there are a few differences. Generic and name-brand medications do not look the same. Generics could have different inactive ingredients (fillers, binders, flavors, etc.) that do not affect the way the medicine works.

Many people and some doctors have concerns with choosing generic prescriptions and prefer brand names. These concerns may include:

  • Worsening of symptoms
  • Side effects
  • Adverse reactions
  • Effectiveness
  • Safety
  • Quality

Which one is the better option?

Generic medications may be considered the superior choice because they are the least expensive option. The low cost of generic medications has been shown to improve health outcomes because people are more likely to fill and take their prescriptions when they are prescribed generics. This is especially true for those that do not have insurance.

In some cases, there is not always a generic available for a specific brand name drug. Additionally, some individuals may need to continue using brand-name medications if they do not respond to the generic drug, or there is an allergy concern. Similarly, some doctors prefer not to switch medications with a narrow therapeutic index. Meaning that there is a small window between the benefits and the harmful effects of the drug.

Essentially, both generic and brand name medications must prove they are safe and effective enough for FDA approval. Generic medications are the least expensive option of the two. However, the doctor may not always prefer switching the brand name for a generic prescription. Ultimately, it is up to the patient and the doctor to determine what type of medicine they will take.


We hope this information on generic vs. brand-name drugs is helpful to you.

Empower Brokerage is dedicated to helping you educate your clients on the insurance they need and staying on top of their health. Whether it’s through webinar training, one-on-one calls, seminars, or marketing plans. We want you to be successful. Give us a call if you have any questions 888-539-1633.

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