Why Generic Medications Might Be the Right Choice for You

Why Generic Medications Might Be the Right Choice for You

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists cancer, heart disease, and diabetes as the leading causes of death and disability in the US, costing the medical system nearly 4 trillion dollars per year. As many as 6 in 10 adults live with a chronic condition, and an estimated 4 in 10 have more than one chronic condition. 

When living with a chronic condition, or dealing with any illness, the necessary drugs that can relieve symptoms can be very costly. Fortunately, many drugs have generic versions, which can save patients substantial amounts of money.  

Jeffrey Miller, MD of Osteoporosis and Rheumatology Center of Tampa Bay understands that healing and disease management is more than just a matter of addressing the causes of illnesses. He also understands the importance of making sure that his patients have access to effective medicines. 

What’s the difference between name-brand and generic drugs?

For any new drug to be released to the market and prescribed by doctors, the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, requires a stringent process to verify the safety and efficacy, or effectiveness, of the drug. This applies not only to prescription drugs but also to any over-the-counter drugs that can be sold by pharmacies. 

New drugs are required to conduct animal trials. Small mammals, like mice, are typically used to test the drugs on which we rely for effective treatment. Clinical trials are conducted on people after a drug passes animal testing. From there, the drug is released after the FDA reviews and approves the drug. This approval process can take up to 15 years, and cost a company over 2.5 billion dollars.

Drug manufacturers are required to disclose their products’ complete ingredient list and formulation when they submit their application for approval by the FDA. The FDA, in turn, is required to publish the ingredient list with the drug when it is released for use by the public. After this long process, and after the drug is released, a competing company can obtain the formulation.  

How do I know generic drugs are safe?

The FDA requires that generic versions of name-brand drugs contain the same formulation, including the same active ingredients, as the name-brand pharmaceutical. The effects of the medicine must also last for at least as long as the name-brand drug. 

For a generic drug to be considered by the FDA, it must submit an abbreviated new drug application, or an ANDA. ANDAs are only used for generic drugs, as the “abbreviated” portion of the name indicates that the generic form did not conduct any animal or clinical trials — they instead used an already-approved formulation for the purposes of creating a more affordable option. 

US trademark laws protect the original product by requiring that the generic version resemble the name-brand drug, without allowing it to be identical. The original producer of the drug is also entitled to a 12-year period where no generic option for it can be made.   

With the same formulation and similar appearance, but without the initial costs of research and promotion, generic drugs are able to offer a lower cost to patients whose financial resources are limited, or those who simply want to save money on their prescriptions. 

Does my medication have a generic version? 

It depends on the drug that you need, but it is possible. To find out, you have several options — the FDA provides a regularly updated list of newly approved generic drugs, and sources like Drugs@FDA and Orange Book provide comprehensive lists of name-brand pharmaceutical products that have generic versions. 

Dr. Miller is also a great source of information when it comes to determining whether or not you can use a generic, and whether you would be best treated with a name-brand or generic drug. If you have questions about saving money with generic medication, call us today at 813-336-3793 for a consultation.

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