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Generic Drugs

What is a generic drug?

Generic drugs are the un-branded form of a prescription medication. They use the same active ingredients as brand name drugs and work the same way.

The FDA puts all generic drugs through a rigorous, multi-step process to ensure that they are the therapeutic equivalent of their brand name counterparts. That means that a generic drug can be substituted for a brand name drug, and it will produce the same clinical effect while meeting the same safety profile as the brand name drug.

How does the FDA review generic drugs?

The FDA ensures every generic drug is safe and effective before it goes to market. Here’s how:

  • The generic drug must have the same active ingredients, have the same amount of active ingredients, deliver them in the same amount of time and be available in the same strength and dosage form as its brand name counterpart.
  • The generic drug must be shown to work the same in the body, perform in the same manner and have the same risks and benefits as its brand name counterpart.
  • The label of the generic drug must include the same information found on the packaging of its brand name counterpart.
  • The generic drug must pass a review of both active and inactive ingredients.
  • The manufacturing facility of the generic drug must pass rigorous inspection.
  • The generic drug must be continuously monitored for quality control, even after it’s been approved.

Why do generic drugs cost less?

Generic drugs cost less because their manufacturers don’t have to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to complete research and development on the original drug. The brand name drug manufacturer makes that investment, along with the millions of dollars needed to market and advertise the new drug. Therefore, it costs the generic manufacturer less to develop the same drug—and those savings are passed on to patients.

How much can I save with generic drugs?

Research shows that using generic drugs can save between 30% to 80% over brand name drugs. But the exact number depends on the specific prescription drug coverage. Members can create a savings report based on their specific benefit plan and access other helpful pharmacy tools when they sign in to our secure member portal.