Generic vs. Name Brand: Is there a difference?

Generic Or Name Brand Medication

By Barrett White

“If there is a generic medication available for my treatment – ever – I’m going to go for it,” says Ruston Taylor, Senior Director of Pharmacy Services & Outreach at Legacy Community Health.

Taylor explains, when a medication is approved by the FDA, the brand name manufacturer holds the patent for the medication for a certain amount of time, meaning that for that time, they are the only company allowed to make that medication. After that time passes, generic companies can begin producing that same medication after multiple regulatory hoops. “The generic version has got to have the same formulation as the brand medication version,” Taylor continues.

And what does that mean exactly? This means that the generic drug is the same as (or equivalent to) the brand product.  And often, generic medications are available for a fraction of the price of the name brand.

Dr. Yong Han, a pediatrician at Legacy, agrees. Tylenol and Motrin are where he sees the most stark difference. “But generic is the same thing, and sometimes has a cost to the patient of 30% to 50% less than branded medication,” Dr. Han says.

“Making a drug is incredibly expensive with development and trials required of brand product manufacturers,” Dr. Han explains. “The brand name company that made the drug is recouping that cost by charging the consumer more. Additionally, the advertisement as well as the fancy packaging will also add to the costs of the branded medication.” Generic companies don’t have to recoup those costs, and this means savings for you.

“Generic medications are not like generic paper towels,” Taylor adds. “You’re not getting lower quality just because it’s generic. There are lots of quality reviews by the FDA; medications are highly regulated. It’s not like generic paper towels where you wouldn’t get the same quality from the generic as compared to the branded product.” 

The next time you’re at the pharmacy, don’t skip over that generic med – it can cure what ails you for a fraction of the price.