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dosage, strength, safety, quality,
the way it works,
the way it is taken and
the way it should be used.
2. What is the difference between a generic equivalent and a generic alternative? A generic equivalent is a medication that contains the same active ingredient as the brand-name drug. For example, lisinopril is the generic equivalent of brands Zestril® and Prinivil®.
A generic alternative is a generic drug that works similarly to a brand-name drug and treats the same condition. The drug lisinopril, for example, is a generic alternative to brand Altace®. They are both effective to lower blood pressure, but they do not contain the same exact ingredients. Generic alternatives are comparable in safety and effectiveness to the brand-name drug.
3. Are generic drugs as safe as brand-name drugs? Yes. The FDA mandates that all drugs must be safe and effective. Generic drugs use the same active ingredients as brand-name drugs and work the same way. Therefore, they have the same risks and benefits as brand-name drugs.
4. Will the pharmacist dispense a generic drug if one is available? Yes. Unless specifically told not to do so by you or your physician, pharmacies that contract with Health Net may substitute a generic drug for a brand-name drug. You should let your Pharmacists know if you want a generic equivalent.
7. Will generic drugs interact the same way as brand-name drugs with over-the-counter medications? Yes. Generic drugs will behave in the same manner as brand-name drugs with the same interactions. Make sure to discuss all the medications you take with your physician, pharmacist or other health care professional to ensure you have no adverse reactions.
Also, by choosing a generic equivalent, you can save money without compromising quality through a lower copayment.
8. Are brand-name drugs made in better factories than generic drugs? No. All factories must meet the same high standards. If the factories do not meet certain standards, the FDA will not allow them to make drugs or be sold in the U.S.
9. If brand-name drugs and generics have the same active ingredients, why do they look different? In the U.S., trademark laws do not allow generic drugs to look exactly like the brand-name drug. Generic drugs are inspected by the FDA and must have the same active ingredients. Colors, flavors, and certain other ingredients may be different, but these differences should not affect the way the drug works.
Ask your physician if a generic drug is available for you, and if there is an equally effective generic drug that will be right for you.
10. Does every brand-name drug have a generic drug? No. When new drugs are first made they are patented. Most drug patents are protected for 17 years. The patent protects the company that originally made the drug. The patent does not allow another manufacturer to make and sell the drug. When the patent expires, other drug companies can start selling the generic version of the drug, but they must first test the generic version of the drug and the FDA must approve it.
11. Why are generic drugs less expensive? Developing a new drug is very expensive. Since generic drug makers do not develop a drug from scratch, the costs to bring the drug to market are less. Generic manufacturers, however, must show that their product performs in the same way as the brand-name drug. The FDA approves all generic drugs before they are released to the public.
12. Why would my physician choose a generic over a brand drug? Generic drugs are proven to be safe, effective and typically cost much less than brand-name drugs. By choosing generic drugs, you can save money without compromising quality.
13. What is the best source of information about generic drugs? Contact your physician, pharmacist or other health care professional for information on your generic drugs. Or visit the FDA website at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ogd/ and select Consumer Education.
This information is not intended to constitute medical advice. Always consult your physician before changing medications.
Resource: US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research website: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ogd/ -Accessed on August 16, 2006.
Information last updated 03/16/2009