"The Increased availability of lower cost generic drugs will benefit all Americans, especially seniors."
Tommy Thompson
Secretary of Health
and Human Services
(2001-2005)


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A Consumer's Guide to Generic Drugs


What Does THAT Mean?



What are Generic Drugs?

Some people may wish to better understand the economically intelligent practice of generic substitution for branded drugs. We've put this section together to assist in this endeavor. It is taken primarily from the US FDA Office of Generic Drugs website which contains a wealth of additional information for those truly inquisitive minds.

The GphA site (http://www.gphaonline.org) is another excellent source where visitors can learn that "generic drugs contain the same active ingredients, in the very same strength, as brand-name drugs." Stated simply here, "When a medicine is first developed, the pharmaceutical company that discovers and markets it receives a patent on its new drug. The patent usually lasts for 20 years, to give the originating company a chance to recoup its research investment. After the patent expires, a generic version of the drug may become available. Generics are marketed under the drug's chemical, or "generic," name and meet the same U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quality and effectiveness standards as the original."

According to the US FDA, a generic drug is identical (defined as bio-equivalent) to a brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics, and intended use. Although generic drugs' active ingredients are chemically identical to and equally as effective as their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantial discounts from the branded price. According to the Congressional Budget Office, generic drugs save consumers an estimated $8-$10 billion a year at retail pharmacies. Even more billions are saved when hospitals use generics.

To Gain FDA approval a generic drug must:

On its site, the GphA states, "With every prescription that you have filled with a generic, you get the same medicine as the brand, with the same quality and same result, but at a much lower cost." So, at the end of the day, generics offer a smart and affordable alternative to branded drug therapies.