More than 40% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States are filled with a generic drug. The popularity and distribution of generic drugs continue to grow as they provide an effective, economical alternative with a good safety profile to the brand-name product. The following information regarding generic drugs should help answer the most commonly asked questions.
What is a generic drug?
Drugs that have been established by the manufacturer to be bioequivalent/therapeutically equivalent to a particular brand name drug receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be sold as a generic drug. FDA recognizes these approved generic drugs to be equal to and interchangeable with the brand name drug. In many cases there may be differences in preservatives and other inactive ingredients, however these components for a generic drug do not influence bioequivalence or routes of administration.
Are generics available for all brand-name products?
No. Many brand-name products are patent protected and are only supplied by one manufacturer. As patents for brand-name products expire, other manufacturers have the opportunity to gain FDA approval to market a generic drug of their own. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist for the availability of a generic drug.
Do generic companies follow different standards than brand name companies?
No differentiation in standards is made between brand and generic companies. All pharmaceutical companies are inspected by the FDA and are required to follow the same guidelines. Many companies similar to Alcon and Falcon produce both brand-name and generic drugs from the same facilities.
Why do generic drugs generally cost less than a brand-name drug?
There are high costs associated with the research and development of a new brand-name drug. Brand-name companies set prices to recover expenditures associated with the research, development and marketing of their new products. Costs associated with the development and marketing of a generic drug are generally much less, which translates into a lower cost product.
Understanding and defining generic drugs is very important to the consumer, as well as the physician and pharmacist. Hopefully, this summary helps to address the differences and similarities between generic and brand-name drugs. Any questions regarding your prescription should be discussed directly with your physician or pharmacist.