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Generic Drugs - Frequently Asked Questions

Generic Drug FAQ

What is a generic drug?

A generic drug is the same as a brand name drug in:

  • dosage, strength, safety, quality,
  • the way it works, and
  • the way it is taken.
What is the difference between a generic equivalent and a generic alternative?

A generic equivalent is a drug that contains the same active ingredient as the brand name drug. For example, lisinopril is the generic equivalent of brand name drugs, Zestril® and Prinivil®.

A generic alternative is a generic drug that works in the same way as a brand name drug and treats the same condition. The drug lisinopril, for example, is a generic alternative to the brand name drug, Altace®. Both drugs lower blood pressure, but they do not contain the same exact active ingredients. Generic alternatives are equal to the brand name drug in safety and how well they work.

Are generic drugs as safe as brand name drugs?

Yes. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all drugs are safe and effective. Generic equivalent drugs use the same active ingredients as brand name drugs and work the same way.

Will the pharmacy give me a generic drug if one is available?

Yes. Unless told not to do so, network pharmacies may give you a generic drug instead of a brand name drug.

Are generic drugs as strong as brand name drugs?

Yes. FDA requires generic drugs to be equal to brand name drugs in quality and strength.

Do generic drugs take longer to work in the body?

No. Generic drugs work in the same way as brand name drugs.

Will generic drugs act the same way as brand name drugs with over-the-counter drugs?

Yes. Generic drugs will act the same way as brand name drugs. Be sure to tell your doctor about all of the drugs you take.

Are brand name drugs made in better factories than generic drugs?

No. The FDA says that all factories must meet the same high standards.

Does every brand name drug have a generic equivalent?

No. New brand name drugs have a patent when they are first made. The patent does not allow another drug company to make and sell the drug. Most drug patents last for several years. When the patent expires, other drug companies can start selling the generic version of the drug.

Why do generic drugs cost less?

Making a new drug costs a lot. Since generic drug companies do not create a drug from scratch, the costs are less. Generic drug companies must prove that their drug acts in the same way as the brand name drug. The FDA approves all generic drugs before they are released to the public.

Why would my doctor choose a generic over a brand drug?

Generic drugs are proven to be safe and work well. By choosing generic drugs, you can also save money in most cases.

How can I find out more about generic drugs?

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to learn more about generic drugs.

Information last updated 04-03-2013

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Reconstructive Surgery
California Health and Safety Code 1367.63 requires health care service plans to cover reconstructive surgery. "Reconstructive surgery" means surgery performed to correct or repair abnormal structures of the body caused by congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumors, or disease to do either of the following:

1. To improve function; or
2. To create a normal appearance, to the extent possible.

Reconstructive surgery does not mean "cosmetic surgery," which is surgery performed to alter or reshape normal structures of the body in order to improve appearance.

Requests for reconstructive surgery may be denied, if the proposed procedure offers only a minimal improvement in the appearance of the enrollee, in accordance with the standard of care as practiced by physicians specializing in reconstructive surgery.

Reconstructive Surgery after Mastectomy
California Health and Safety Code 1367.6 requires treatment for breast cancer to cover prosthetic devices or reconstructive surgery to restore and achieve symmetry for the patient incident to a mastectomy. Coverage for prosthetic devices and reconstructive surgery shall be subject to the copayment, or deductible and coinsurance conditions, that are applicable to the mastectomy and all other terms and conditions applicable to other benefits. "Mastectomy" means the removal of all or part of the breast for medically necessary reasons, as determined by a licensed physician and surgeon.

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