Getting to Know Generic Medications and Getting Confident About Their Use

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Did you know that approximately 44% of all drug prescriptions filled in the United States are made with generic medications? This was not the case in the 1950s when the only available acetaminophen was sold under a single brand name – Tylenol. Today, name a drug and it will likely have a generic and branded counterpart.

But there are many questions about generic medications that people are still asking. Many of these questions may even be among the reasons why people are still hesitant about using generic drugs. This should not be as generic medications are just as safe and effective yet more affordable than their branded counterparts.

Here are a few questions and answers that will help you in gaining a better understanding of generic medications and getting confident about their use.

What are generic medications?

These are drugs that copy the dosage, strength and safety as well as the manner of administration, intended use, and overall quality of branded drugs. The generic drugs can only be manufactured and sold after the patents for the new drugs have expired.

Pharmaceutical firms develop new drugs and apply for patents for these drugs. The patents protect the drug firms’ investments by giving them the exclusive right to manufacture and sell the drugs for as long as these are in effect. Once the patents expire, other companies can apply to the FDA for the manufacture of the generic medications.

What are the effects of generic medications?

Generic medications are just as safe and effective as their branded counterparts, a requirement imposed by the FDA for all drugs released to the public. These drugs are also manufactured with the same active ingredients as their branded counterparts, thus, their equal performance. These medications are also formulated with the same strength, stability, purity and quality as their branded counterparts, yet another requirement imposed by the FDA.

Generic medications, however, are less expensive for reasons including:

  • The manufacturers did not assume the investment costs in the research and development of the new drug. These investment costs, which also include marketing and promotion expenses, are then not added to the selling prices of the generic medications.
  • The manufacturers of generic drugs must deal with more competition, which drives down the selling prices. The more competitors for the generic drugs, the more likely the price become more affordable, according to the law of supply and demand.

The bottom line: Generic medications are safe and effective as well as more affordable alternative to branded medications.

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