Nearly every one of your favorite local pharmacies offer a discount option. Plans include extensive generic drug lists that are available in a month’s supply for $4, or a 90 day supply for $10. When writing prescriptions, many doctors ask if you want to use the $4 plan. If so, they will write for the generic equivalent of the medication you need so that it’s available for $4. This is very beneficial to many people who could not otherwise afford their medication. It seems no matter how bad off you are at any given time, you can always come up with $4 if you need to. So, is the generic $4 medication the best option?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 9 out of 10 prescriptions filled in the United States are generic drugs. The FDA’s Office of Generic Drugs (OGD) ensures that people have access to affordable generic drugs by following a rigorous review process. The availability of such drugs allows for competition in the prescription marketplace, which helps bring treatment costs down. In doing so, the FDA is committed to making sure that generic drugs are just as good as the name brand.
Equivalent to Name Brand Drugs
The Office of Generic Drugs maintains a review process that insures generic drugs are equivalent to the name brand drugs. In order for a drug to qualify as a generic, it must:
- Contain the same active or key ingredient
- Have the same strength
- Use the same dosage form
- Use the same route of administration
The medication should perform the same in the body and be prescribed for the same use as the name brand drug. In addition, when the FDA approves a generic drug, it is in fact the same quality, strength, purity, and stability as the name brand drug, and even the manufacturing facilities have been inspected to ensure quality and packaging is consistent with FDA standards.
What is the Difference?
There is no real difference between the name brand medication and the generic version. When a new drug is created, it is protected by patents and exclusivities, much like new inventions. When those patents and marketing exclusivities end, then another company can create a generic equivalent without legal ramifications and market it as a generic drug.
Why Do They Cost Less?
As a consumer, we may automatically assume that generic drugs cost less because they’re not as good. This is not true in the least. Generic drugs are generally cheaper because they don’t have to go through the research, trials, and animal and human testing that the brand name drugs do to test for safety and effectiveness.
Choosing Your Med
When you are choosing a medication to treat your current or recurring illness, you should talk to your doctor about the options and choose the best option for your specific case. Your insurance may also cover the name brand drug, but not the generic. In other cases, your insurance may not cover the name brand drug that you would like, but covers a similar medication or it’s generic equivalent. It’s all about taking control of your health care and knowing your options. Is the $4 plan the best option? It may be the best option for your antibiotic, but not your SSRI. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re still not sure.