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What are generic drugs? Why do they cost less? Are they as effective as brand name drugs? These are all good questions, now here are our answers.
You’re at the pharmacy getting a prescription refilled. To your surprise, the pharmacist tells you that he/she has replaced your brand name drug with a generic drug, explaining that it is exactly the same medication as the one prescribed, that it is just as effective and safe, but much cheaper. You accept the generic version but start having doubts when you get home, wondering if it really is just as effective as the original, or whether you will experience different side effects and should you have checked with your doctor before accepting a substitute.
The following information aims sheds light on this subject and is intended to reassure you as regards the effectiveness and safety of generic drugs.
A generic drug is a copy of the original, which was first marketed by the company that discovered it. When a new drug is put on the market, it is protected by a patent that gives it commercial exclusivity for a certain number of years. After that time, it can be copied and sold at a much lower price as a generic drug since the drug manufacturer does not have to recoup research and marketing costs.
Here are some examples of brand name drugs and their generic equivalent:
The main difference between a generic and brand name drug is the price. Generics cost on average 40% less than brand name drugs. This not only benefits customers, who see their prescription costs decrease, but also helps insurance companies and governments, which are always looking for ways to reduce drug consumption costs. After all, why pay more for a product of the same quality if it’s available for less?
Besides the price, there is no, or very little, difference between brand name and generic drugs. The latter must respect the same standards and regulations as the brand name and contains exactly the same type and quantity of medication. Only the non-medicinal ingredients may vary slightly. These ingredients give the final product its appearance, form, colour and smell. If such differences do exist, they do not change anything in terms of quality, effectiveness and safety. Both the therapeutic and side effects are similar as well. Like any brand name drug, generics are subject to numerous studies and analyses before receiving approval from Health Canada.
Your pharmacist is not required to consult your physician before replacing a brand name drug with a generic drug. However, he/she must inform you and obtain your consent. Trust your pharmacist. If he/she is suggesting a generic drug, it is because he/she is sure this is the best treatment choice for you at the best possible price.
Now, if your pharmacist suggest a generic drug instead of the brand name drug you usually take, you will be well-informed and reassured.. If you have any other general questions about generic drugs or about the specific generic replacement your pharmacist is suggesting, don’t hesitate to ask. That’s what our pharmacists are here for.
If you have any questions about generic drugs, do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist.
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