Friday, April 22, 2016

What are brand name and generic drugs?

What are brand name and generic drugs?

A brand name drug is a medicine that’s discovered, developed and marketed by a pharmaceutical company. Once a new drug is discovered, the company files for a patent to protect against other companies making copies and selling the drug. At this point the drug has two names: a generic name that’s the drug’s common scientific name and a brand name to make it stand out in the marketplace. This is true of prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter drugs. An example is the pain reliever Tylenol®. The brand name is Tylenol® and the generic name is acetaminophen.

Generic drugs have the same active ingredients as brand name drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Generics only become available after the patent expires on a brand name drug. Patent periods may last up to 20 years on some drugs. The same company that makes the brand name drug may also produce the generic version. Or, a different company might produce it.

The Similarities

According to the FDA, to substitute a generic for a brand name drug:

1. It must contain the same active ingredients (the chemical substance that makes the drug work).

2. It must have the same dosage strength (the amount of active ingredients, for example 20 mg or 40 mg).

3. It must be the same dosage form (that is, it needs to be available in the same form as the original - for example, as a liquid, pill, etc.)

4. It must have the same route of administration (the way the medication is introduced into the body).

5. It must deliver similar amounts of the drug to the bloodstream (that is, it needs to deliver a comparable amount of the drug into the bloodstream within a similar time period as the brand name drug).

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The Differences

Here’s how generics and brand name drugs differ:

1. They look different. (Federal law requires this.)
1.1 They could have different sizes, shapes, colors or markings.
1.2 They have different names.

2. They might have different inactive ingredients.
2.1 Drugs are made up of both active and inactive ingredients. Some people may be sensitive to inactive ingredients.
For example, some people have reactions to certain dyes used in some drugs.

3. The generic costs less than the brand name drug.
3.1 The cash price and insurance co-pay is usually lower. Generics can cost between 20 and 80 percent less, but keep in mind that cost is only one factor when considering the right medication for your condition.

4. Generics vary by manufacturer, which means you could receive different versions based on where you purchase your medications and what type of generic they dispense.
4.1 Different pharmacies carry different generics.
4.2 Even the same pharmacy may change generic suppliers.

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Why do brand name drugs cost more than generics?

It takes several years, costly scientific development and many clinical studies to get a drug approved. Manufacturers of new brand name drugs (also called “pioneer drugs”) usually take on the research and development costs for new medications. These research and development costs, along with marketing costs, account for most of the higher prices we pay for most brand name drugs. In contrast, generic drugs have less research and development costs since the original manufacturer has already done many studies to make sure the drug is safe. These savings are passed on to the consumer. However, while the brand name form is still protected by its patent, no generics can be produced. And, if a brand name drug has only just recently lost its patent, there may only be one generic form available. Usually, when there’s only one generic option available, it will be more expensive.