What’s in a Name? Brand Name vs Generic Drugs – Helpful Guide

Posted June 3, 2019 by Mitch Fraker - See Editorial Guidelines

Every day, we’re offered brand name vs generic drugs. We’re told they’re exactly the same, but that’s not entirely true. As the experts in the supply of medication drugs, we’re going to outline in this article the differences between brand name and generic drugs. We’ll be looking at:

  • Should you take generic drugs?
  • Is the cost savings worth it?
  • Is there a way to get brand-name medicines at low prices?

But first, here’s a brief answer to give you some quick insight, then we’ll dive into more details…

Difference between brand name vs generic drugs? The main difference between a generic and a brand name drug is their costs. Generic drugs cost 80%-85% cheaper than a brand name drug. But ingredients can vary by up to 20%, so generic drugs could be less effective. Names might be different as the FDA makes these minor differences essential.

The Same Active Ingredient – But…

brand name vs generic

By law, generic drugs must contain the same active ingredient, use the same delivery method, etc.

Interestingly though, the FDA allows up to a 20% variation in the chemical composition in the active ingredient. While it’s usually less, any variation at all might change the effectiveness of the medicine for some people.

In one study in the October 2017 issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes researchers concluded that after the release of three different generic blood pressure medicines, incidents of side effects increased.

The place where the drugs tend to be less regulated is in the inactive ingredients. Fillers, preservatives, and more can be different. While this might not change the efficacy of the active ingredients, these other ingredients might have unplanned side effects.

Backed by Research, Lots of Research

Brand name medicines are backed by a lot of research. That’s a major reason why they’re more expensive. The drug company must first develop and manufacture the drug, then they need to test the drug, first on animals and later on humans.

All of that testing is expensive. Since the drug companies are for-profit companies, they need to make back all of those expenses and still make a profit.

Generic manufacturers don’t need to do all of this testing. While they must prove that they’re producing the same (or mostly the same) active ingredients, there is no testing on the fillers or preservatives. This gives rise to questions about the efficacy of the overall formula of generic medications.

Why We Buy Brand Names

One of the things that humans are prone to, is appreciating familiarity. Odds are that you drive past five places that make burgers to get to McDonald’s. It’s even more likely that you drove past 10 places that sell coffee to get to Starbucks. There is a peace of mind in familiarity.

We’ve learned to trust those brands that we use, for good reason. They have served us well and delivered for years, sometimes generations.

The same applies to the brand-name pharmaceuticals. The big companies are big because they discover medicines that people need. Many have been providing great products and services for over 100 years. That trust can provide peace of mind to anyone who is taking a medication, particularly one that they aren’t familiar with.

Price Differences – Brand Name vs Generic  

People are often concerned about brand name vs generic drugs because of their cost components.

As we know generic drugs are often substantially cheaper than the brand name versions. So, when such a huge cost difference exists between two drugs, it’s practical and reasonable for anyone to question the effectiveness or quality of the lesser-priced drugs.

Savings on Brand Name Medications

brand name vs generic

In many cases, people can get brand name drugs for very low prices by using services like Prescription Hope to get access to patient assistance programs that have been set up by the drug manufacturers.

While the drug companies need to make money to pay for the development of new medicines, they understand that not everyone can afford to pay their regular price. Through their patient assistance programs, they are able to lower their drug prices to people whose income is below a certain level.

Saving money on prescription drugs has become a cause celebre for many politicians and others. They rarely truly discuss the differences in the formulas and the need to fund drug development.

You Can’t Always Obtain a Generic Drug

There will be occasions when you simply cannot get a generic drug for your condition.  This is because, when a drug is developed and the company brings the new drug into the market, it involves a huge set of costs.

The company manufacturing the drug will have to spend a substantial amount of money on areas like research, development, marketing, and promotion of the drug.

By the time a drug has been developed, receives FDA approval, and is commercially available the company will have likely spent up to $2 billion or more.

Add to this that the company would also have to go through three phases of clinical trials to prove the drug is safe and effective enough to be sold. This process involves a lot of money and time. These costs will need to be recovered, and they can only be recovered from the sales of the specific drug.

So, because of this reason, a sole patent is granted to the company that developed and released the drug. This patent allows them exclusive rights to sell the drug as long as the patent is in effect.

As such, the manufacturing company will be the only ones allowed to market and sell that drug – usually for up to 20 years after release, or until the patent expires.

When the patent nears expiration, other manufacturers can then apply for FDA approval to make and sell generic versions of the drug. As such when the patent expires more drug makers can compete.

If you do not find there is a generic drug available for the one you need, this is likely to be the reason why. By dealing with brand name drugs only, we can guarantee not to run into this issue, and you can be sure that the drugs you get will be the ones that went through the trials.

Which Should You Use? Brand Name vs Generic

Often, the choice is made by price. If the brand name is $200 a prescription and the generic is $28, the decision is simple for most of us.

Using Patient Assistance Programs, the prices of brand name drugs can be lowered significantly. For example, with Prescription Hope, that $200 brand name prescription is only $50. You get the quality and peace of mind for much less.

This can allow you to choose drugs that are made by the original drug manufacturer while still saving money.

To Conclude

Instead of needing to call each of the manufacturers of your medications separately, you can consider using a service like Prescription Hope. Prescription Hope works directly with the manufacturers to get you a low price on your brand name drugs while saving you an immense amount of time and money. Visit the enrollment page to create an account and fill out your application.

See If You Qualify