Are you saving money or actually putting your life in danger?
That is the question many of us ponder when deciding between generic vs brand name drugs. Obviously, generic drugs offer ways to save money (sometimes, quite a bit of money). But do they offer the same performance you or your family needs when somebody is really sick?
To fully understand the answer to that question, you need to know all of the differences and similarities between generic and brand-name drugs. Keep reading to discover our complete guide!
It saves you more money with different manufacturer options
Not available right away and not all branded drugs have generics
No (Mostly not covered)
What Is A Brand Name Drug?
A brand name drug is the first version of a drug to be sold within a country. A drug sold by the drug manufacturer that first researched and developed the drug.
Why Are Brand Name Drugs So Hard on My Wallet?
It's very reassuring to hear that you can buy generic drugs that are just as effective as brand name drugs while costing only a fraction of the price. But this means you must eventually ask another big question: why are the brand name versions of drugs so much more expensive?
There are multiple reasons for this, and we have already touched on the biggest factor: research and testing. While generic drug makers basically just copy the work of others, those developing an original drug must invest the time and money into research and development. And they must also foot the bill for the initial clinical testing (which is likely to be very expensive).
And once a brand has developed their own drug, they can set whatever price they want because they are the only ones producing this particular brand. Meanwhile, there can be (and often are) multiple companies selling generic versions of popular drugs. This competition among generic drug manufacturers keeps costs down, but the lack of competition with brand name drugs keeps those costs very high (though your guaranteed insurance can help pay for prescription drugs).
Ironically, the relatively low price of generic drugs causes many people to worry about their effectiveness. After all, it's tough to believe that you could pay 80% less and still get the same level of effectiveness. And because this is the case, the average consumer is usually better off buying generic drugs when they get the opportunity.
Why Would I Ever Choose Brand Name Drugs?
Why would you ever need to go with brand name drugs? We've already covered one of the primary reasons: because your body reacts in an unexpected way to generic drugs.
For example, let's say that you've been regularly taking a name brand drug but then switch to the generic so you can save some money. There is a chance that your body won't react as expected, causing you to experience side effects or not experience the full range of benefits.
Because of this, your doctor may recommend not switching to a different medication. If the doctor thinks you might be allergic or have another negative reaction, then he may recommend sticking with the brand name as a known quantity, especially while you are weak or if you are older.
Speaking of allergic reactions, there is a chance you are allergic to one of the inactive ingredients used in the generic version of a drug. If you discover you are allergic and there are no alternative generic drugs with different ingredients, then you may need to take the brand name drug instead.
Finally, there are cases where other medication or treatments you are receiving may make the generic drug dangerous to take. For example, certain heart medications or blood thinners react negatively to certain generic drugs. As always, we recommend that you consult with your doctor before changing medication or using medication you have never used before.
Long story short? Most of the time, you are still better off going with the generic version of a drug. But you should be aware of these rare cases in which you'd be better off getting the brand name version instead.
What Is A Generic Drug?
A generic drug is a legal clone copy of the original brand name drug with the same chemical ingredients, strength and quality.
Note: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assures that all approved generic medicines work in the same way and provide the same clinical benefits and risks as their brand-name counterparts. Generic medicine are required to be the same as a brand-name medicine in terms of dosage, effectiveness, strength, safety, stability and quality, as well as in the way it is taken. Generic medicines also have the same risks and benefits as their brand-name counterparts
Are Generic Drugs Actually Safe?
By now, you have probably figured out that the average person doesn't know much about medication and human biology. In fact, general confusion over how medical science works is at the heart of most "antivaxxer" movements. And due to this general confusion, many are still worried about whether or not generic drugs are safe for adults and children alike.
The answer to this question is "yes," and it all goes back to the involvement of Health Canada. Because generic drugs are subject to the same federal regulations as brand name drugs, they must undergo the same rigorous testing.
Without these regulations and testing in place, then the country would be a chaotic mess of lawsuits left and right. Manufacturers producing dangerous drugs would be subject to legal action, as would any stores or pharmacies that sold dangerous drugs to unsuspecting customers.
Thankfully, generic drugs are just as safe as any other medication you can purchase. This gives you one less thing to worry about when you're trying to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy!
Why Were Generic Drugs Created?
So far, we have reviewed the fact that brand name drugs and generic drugs are functionally the same. But this leads to another major question: why were generic drugs created in the first place?
It's a fair question. After all, having two (or more) kinds of the same drug seems a bit redundant. However, the explanation is simple, and it all comes down to capitalism.
Once there is a successful name brand drug, nothing keeps the brand's competition from making their own version. And it doesn't take very much time to develop generic versions since all of the time and research went into perfecting the original drug (more on this very soon).
At the end of the day, generic drugs take very little time to develop and very little money to produce. And they don't even need to be heavily marketed because they can rely on the marketing of the original brand. This allows manufacturers to sell generic drugs for very competitive prices while still making a tidy profit.
How Much Money Can I Save With Generic Drugs?
It's an open secret that consumers typically prefer to buy generic drugs because they stand to save a lot of money. But how much money can the average consumer actually expect to save?
The exact numbers may vary from drug to drug and manufacturer to manufacturer. However, consumers can typically expect to save about 80% by buying the generic drug rather than buying the brand name.
Over time, this can really add up. For example, let's say that you regularly rely on cold and allergy medicine such as Sudafed. Buying this brand name might run you approximately $10 for a pack of 24 caplets.
However, you could potentially find a generic alternative to Sudafed for as little as $2. If you previously bought a pack of Sudafed each week, then switching to the alternative could save you $416 a year. Just think about what you could buy with the money you save throughout the year.
How Can I Recognize Generic Drugs?
As we have noted, you are better off in most cases buying generic drugs. But you may not always wish to do so. In that case, it's important to know how to recognize generic drugs.
Aside from the fact that generic drugs are typically sold alongside the brand name drug, it may be difficult to recognize generic drugs. That is because they must offer the same benefits and use the same active ingredient as name brand drugs. Beyond that, these drugs may look very different from what you are expecting.
For example, these drugs may look physically different. And thanks to different inactive ingredients, there may be different side effects when it comes to these drugs.
Why would the side effects be different? Simply put, the way your body reacts to certain drugs can be due to many different factors, right down to the exact mix of inactive ingredients. When you take a generic drug after consistently taking the brand name version, then you may experience very different effects.
That leads us to another major question: even if generic drugs are the best bet most of the time, they aren't the best bet all of the time. So when are you actually better off going with brand name drugs instead of generic ones?
How Can I Find the Right Generic Drugs for Me?
After reading through our guide, you might be ready to purchase some generic drugs to improve your health while saving money. But where can you find the generic drugs that you or your family might need?
First of all, you can never go wrong with asking your doctor or your pharmacist. Not only can these professionals make a safe recommendation, but they have a working knowledge of your other medication and can warn you about the dangers of mixing certain medications together.
Second, so long as the generic drug you need is not a prescription drug, you may be able to find and order it online. This is a particularly helpful option if you are too sick to easily or safely make a trip to the store.
Speaking of the store, you can usually find generic drugs right next to their brand name counterparts. If you are lucky, there may be multiple generic versions to choose from, and this can help you find a price that is "just right" for your budget.
Do They Work The Same?
Our guide is going to walk you through everything you need to know about generic vs brand name drugs. First, let's start with the big question: do these drugs actually work the same?
For the most part, the answer to this question is "yes." This may come as a surprise to some people because we often use "generic" the same way that we use "knock off." And this implies that generic drugs do not offer the same performance as brand name drugs.
However, they work the same in large part because generic drugs are copied from brand name drugs. So when you buy the generic version of a drug, you are getting the same dosage, strength, and other characters that you get from the brand name version.
In other words, if you are at the store and shopping for some sinus medication, it's okay to grab the generic version of Sudafed. That is because the generic version is modeled after the original instead of being a "lesser than" version of the brand you are more familiar with.
Now that you know these drugs work the same way, let's move on to the next big question: is one type of drug actually more effective than the other?
Is One More Effective Than the Other?
It's one thing to say the brand name drugs and generic drugs work the same way. However, many who hesitate to purchase generic drugs do so because they are worried that the generic drugs are less effective.
The good news is that these generic drugs are just as effective as the brand name version. In fact, this effectiveness is required by law!
Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other outlets are not allowed to simply sell any drugs they want, generic or not. In Canada, drugs need to be first approved by Health Canada before they can be sold.
What is Health Canada looking for when they examine these drugs? Simply put, they are making sure that generic drugs offer the same range of benefits that brand name drugs do. In other words, there is little difference between these drugs besides the price, so you can rest easy whenever you buy generic.