Generic or Brand Counterpart — What Should You Choose? Submitted by: GVK
Each year the cost of healthcare services and medications is increasing, affecting millions of life within the country. That said more and more people are opting for generic drugs for its various advantages. However, many among us who look for an answer, as to which one should they choose—generic or brand counterpart?
Today, in times of sky rocketing costs and a snail-paced economy, generic drugs are the best way to reduce healthcare costs. Many unaware about generic medicine must note that usually generic equivalents is simply 'equivalent.' They undergo FDA tests and approvals, similar to brand name drugs. To the uninitiated, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consider generic drugs identical or bio-equivalent to brand name drugs. Now, the question likely to be answered is, are they equal and effective.
Generic Drugs — What Are They?
Generic drugs are usually copies of brand name drugs. Technically, they are an equivalent of their brand counterparts, in other words, the same medicine. They contain same active ingredients; made by different companies. The dosage form, intended use, strength, route of administration, effects and risks are similar to the original. For example, diabetes patients mainly use Metformin, which is a generic name for brand Glucophage. Consumers prefer generic options for they need to pay a price, which is considerably 85% lower than that of a brand counterpart. Insurance companies largely cover generics.
For instance, as per a 2012 study, the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics states with use of generic drugs, America's health care system has saved approximately $1.07 trillion over the past decade, with $192.8 billion in savings achieved in 2011 itself. Generic drugs have the cost advantage, nonetheless, their quality and efficacy is important. Venkat Krishnan, senior vice president and regional director at Ranbaxy Inc. states, "The U.S. FDA tests generic medicines just as rigorously as their branded counterparts…generic drugs must meet rigid qualifying criteria before they can be made available to the general public."
Why the Difference?
Generic drugs usually come cheap since manufacturers need not spend money on developing and marketing a new drug altogether. When a company launches a new medication, a patent is issued. This gives them rights to sell their drug till the time their patent is valid. However, once it expires, other manufactures seek permission from FDA to produce and sell generic versions of a specific drug. Over time, competition often leads to its price being lowered, thereby benefiting consumers.
A large percentage of top pharmaceutical companies manufacture both brand name and generic drugs. The FDA states that brand companies produce about 50% of all generic drugs. One can be rest assured of the quality of generic drugs since the FDA requires equivalent standards used as applied in making brand drugs. Do not get misled, generic medications come in several forms, colors and combinations of ingredients. However, the main active ingredient remains the same so that it produces the desired result.