You return home from the pharmacy, and as you take out your next daily dose, you notice that the pills in no way resemble the medication you have become accustomed to taking. You check twice the name of the drug on the label, only to see a name that appears to have more letters than possible and is nearly impossible to verbalize.
This plays out in American homes thousands of times daily and could be avoided if patients were better educated concerning FDA approved generic medications. Many patients automatically assume their medication was filled wrong or they were accidentally given another patient’s medication. More than likely, your prescription was filled as prescribed, just with a less costly generic alternative that is exactly the same as the brand medication you were getting previously.
When finding this out, many people return to the pharmacy ready for a battle, or express their disagreement, only to have the pharmacist encourage them with the fact that this medication is actually a generic medication and this is the right prescription.
How will you know what can be expected of the generic medicine from what is shown on the bottle’s label? These are some ways in which generics obviously differ from their brand-name counterparts. Being aware that there are differences, and still, it is similar medication can help you to be relaxed when you see strange pills in your bottle, and when the pharmacist explains this when you call him or come back with questions. Keep in mind that even though the information below is correct, you should not use it as a basis that your prescription was filled right. Make contact with your pharmacist if you have any questions before you take the medications. That being said, many pharmacies make certain that people know about the new generic medication before they leave the pharmacy.
Size/Shape/Color: Since generic medications are usually fabricated by generic drug companies not associated with the brand manufacturer of a specific drug, the manufacturing method, design, appearance and size of a pill will differ, depending on the fabrication process of the pill. The designs are vastly different depending who is producing them. Even though your brand name medication might be round and green, the generic equivalent could be oval and pink. Rest assured the difference here is only in appearances; the medication itself is FDA approved and must act the same and work the same as the brand name equivalent.
Name: Though it should be straightforward, this is usually the most confusing part. The chemical structure of the drug is given a technical, pharmaceutical name which is what your generic drug is called. Brand names are basically easy to say and easy to recall names that assist the patients as well as the doctors to recognize and use that medicine first. Try to remember an anti-reflux prescription medication and perhaps you will think about Prilosec. Should I inform you that Omperazole is the real name of the medication, you might think about how it could possibly be the same thing. It is reassuring to know that the name of the chemical in a drug always becomes the name of the generic, by order of the FDA, while brand names are designed to be appealing to the consumer and easy to recall.
Inactive Ingredients: The FDA has strict regulations which dictate that generic prescription medications must be exactly the same, chemically, as the brandname equivalent. You may still notice differences in color, shape, texture, and bindings because inactive ingredients in the generic may not be the same as those used in the brand name drug. Over the counter generic drugs have more pronounced differences in inactive ingredients as opposed to the popular brands. The most crucial fact to grasp is that only the inactive components of the generics vary from the brand name drugs. The inactive ingredients make up the taste, texture, shape, color, or binding of the pill and in no way affect the active ingredients or how the medication works.
Cost: This is the primary reason why most people switch to generics. Typically, a generic medicine is about 85% cheaper than buying the name brand. It is often confusing for individuals how the medicine can be the same but cost much less. Believing that generic drugs are less effective and more dangerous than a brand name is something people are generally wrong in assuming. And this is just not the case. Truthfully, generics are less costly for a simple reason. The first company that made the medication (the brand name) took a long time and spent a lot of money on experimenting and designing, examining, getting FDA approved, commercials, and creating the medication. This is all quite costly, so the company received a patent for a certain number of years, guaranteeing them the opportunity to be the sole producer of the product during that time and allowing them to charge whatever they deem necessary to recoup the costs of their expenses in research and development.
But once the patent expires, generic companies can use the drug formula to reproduce another version of the drug, and their only expenses are the production, packaging and shipping costs. The R&D for new drugs costs billions, while the generic version of an already existing drug costs a fraction of that. So everyone saves on generic medications, including you. Some brand companies are even making their own generic versions of the medications they created to increase their competitiveness with the generic companies.
What of those who claim that generics do not work the same as the brand name product, or that they don’t have any effect? Most likely there is some psychological value to this and although this might not be ‘just their imagination’, if they think that the generic is not as effective, this can really cause minor physiological alterations that make it feel like the medicine is less potent. Consider yourself when feeling stressed; these mental strains often bring about physical changes. A small percentage of individuals may have an allergy to an inactive ingredient in a generic medication which could render the medication ineffective. The FDA supervises all medication development including generics, which are tested prior to entering the research market. In 2007, the FDA launched an educational campaign geared towards distributing literature and fact sheets with information on generic medications, how they are sold at pharmacies, and how their quality is tested. Generics are subject to the same inspections as brand medications, and they are also analyzed to ensure that their quality and performance match the brand they are replacing.
Generics can save consumers a significant amount of money, and it is important to realize that the savings is not due to inferior quality. Generics can be sold for substantially less than the name brand version because generic manufacturers do not have to bear the cost of research and development of the product. Talk to your pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about generics. Before you leave your pharmacy, look over your medications carefully so that if you see a pill or name you do not recognize, you can check with the pharmacist to be sure you are getting a high quality generic of your brand equivalent.