When you go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription, you may be asked if you prefer the generic or the name brand medication. “Chemically, generic drugs are the same as brand name drugs,” said John Armitstead, pharmacy system director at Lee Health.
In Florida, pharmacists are required to tell patients if the prescribed drug is available as a generic product. “We usually want to have generic competition and generic availability of medications because it’s the same chemical product at a lower cost,” said Armitstead.
Both products offer the same effectiveness and side effects—And while the packaging can look different—pharmacists say the only real difference is found in the price. “When the first generic product comes out, it’s probably about 80 percent of the cost of the brand name product,” he said.
But the cost isn’t without reason. “The cost of branded products which tend to be innovations to drug therapy is more expensive, but they also bring innovations to patient care, so they are necessary,” Armitstead said.
The brand name price tag also reflects the Patent—giving the manufacturers exclusive rights to the drug for a limited time. Once the patent expires, generic brands can then be produced. “Almost every drug product you see advertised on television is a brand product. And that’s why you see it advertised is because the drug manufacturer is trying to recoup its research fees associated with providing that drug,” he said.
While studies show that about 90 percent of the US market utilizes generic drug products—patients can decide if they prefer generic or name brand at pick up.