Is it worth paying more for the name brand?  That’s a question people are always asking themselves.  Should I buy the name brand toilet paper or is a no-name brand just fine?  There are times when spending more on the name brand means you will receive a higher quality product.  There are also times when it doesn’t matter one way or the other.  After all, a plain white cotton t-shirt is a plain white cotton t-shirt, right?  So where do prescription and over-the-counter medications fall into this brand name vs generic drugs debate?  Fortunately, you will get the same quality in a generic version of a medication as you get with the brand name.

Rigorous Testing

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs cannot be sold to the public unless they have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).  Period.  Whether it is a brand name or a generic version of a drug, the FDA must make sure it is both safe and effective.  This means that generic drugs include the same active ingredients, quality, and strength as their brand name counterparts.  However, since they cost less, we tend to perceive them as lower quality.

Consider blood pressure medications, which were among the most-prescribed in 2013 according to Dr. Timothy Lesar, pharmacy director at the Albany Medical Center.  When comparing online pharmacy prices, the generic Lisinopril 5mg price for 112 5mg pills is $39.00 and the brand name equivalent Zestril 5mg price for 100 is $114.00.  It’s hard to believe the generic is as high quality with a price difference like that.  The same could be said when comparing the generic Aripiprazole 10mg price for 100 pills is $38.25 against the brand name Abilify 10mg price for 84 is $288. It’s also a relief to find out the quality is as high, given the amount of money to be saved.  Even when it comes to common over-the-counter pain medications there is a difference.  The Ibuprofen 600mg price for the generic brand is $24.00 for 100 tablets and the Advil 400mg price for 100 tablets is $26.00.  That’s $2.00 more for less potency when you buy the brand name.

Why Do Doctors Push Brand Names?

Physicians tend to push the brand names of the drugs they prescribe.  Why is this the case if the generic drugs are less costly and of the same quality?  Part of the reason is that prescribing the brand name is simply what doctors are used to because when a drug first becomes available there are no generic versions for about eight years.  Part of the reason may also be due to the intense advertising campaigns put out by the drug companies to sell their brand name medications.

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Are There Any Problems with Generic?

All medications have both active (medicinal) ingredients and inactive (filler) ingredients.  Generic medications may have different inactive ingredients, to which a person’s body may react differently.  However, some people may fare better on generic drugs vs brand name.  The only other potential problem with generic drugs is that the generic companies may not always be up-to-date on the latest side effects of medications and may not have them properly listed.  Whenever going on a new generic drug, it is wise to check the current list of potential side effects from the brand name equivalent.

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Go Generic

If you feel comfortable with it and want to save money, there is no reason why you can’t go with the generic brand of your medications.  This goes for the generic over-the-counter medications, such as pain killers and cold medications, as well prescription medications.  Saving money is important, especially in this day and age, and fortunately you don’t have to sacrifice your health to do it.

About Cary Byrd

eDrugSearch founder, Cary Byrd, has been called an “e-health innovator” by MarketIntellNow, interviewed by top pharmaceutical industry journalists, invited to Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference and a Consumer Report's health summit, and highlighted on numerous health blogs. - Search. Compare. Save.

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