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Are Generic Drugs Safe?

Generic vs. Brand-Name Drugs: Are They Both the Same?

We often hear recommendations to buy generic, because they are pretty much the same as brand-name drugs, and are cheaper to boot. But many still stick with a brand they know, because after all, no one wants to take a gamble with their health. Here is a breakdown of facts you should know:

  • How They Come About: Generic brands start surfacing when the patent of the brand-name drugs expires. Patents can last up to 20 years, and after they expire, other drug makers are allowed to come out with generic versions, which the US Food and Drug Administration rigorously regulates. The generic drugs are required to have the "same high quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name drugs," according to the FDA website.
  • Why the Cost is Less: Generic drug producers charge a lower cost, because they are spending a lot less on marketing, advertising, and are not investing heavily in research and development.
  • Different Looks and Names: You might be used to the look of your brand-name drug, so if the generic has a different appearance, this might cause some confusion. Although the contrast might be great, the generic drugs still perform the same functions. Brand-name drugs often give themselves catchy names, which are different from the original drug name, so bear in mind that a different name doesn't mean a different drug.

For more information on generic vs. brand-name drugs, read on.

  • Easy to Check: You can find out if your brand-name drug has a generic version on FDA online generic drug library, Drugs@FDA, or ask your doctor and pharmacist if there are any generic drugs you can take in lieu of the brand names.
  • Big Savings: The amount you'll be saving on your generic brands will add up. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that consumers are saving about $8 to $10 billion annually at retail pharmacies.  You'll personally be saving about 80 to 85 percent if you go generic, says the FDA.

The decision to switch is up to you, but know that you will be saving a lot if you buy a generic drug that works just as well. Make sure you talk to your doctor before making the change to dispel any doubts you have and to make certain that this is the right change for you.

Source: Flickr User e-MagineArt.com

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