Generic Medicine vs. Name Brand: A Pharmacist’s Point of View
There has always been a debate about choosing brand name drugs and generic drugs throughout my pharmacy career. Is a brand name drug more effective than a generic? Do generic drugs cause more side effects? While there is a place for both in the world of pharmacy, my world stays focused on generics. As a pharmacy, we decided to divert our focus from insurance contracts and obligations to what matters, helping patients. Generic medications have allowed us to do that.
Let’s look at 3 ways generic medications have allowed us to focus on our patients:
- GENERICS SAVE OUR PATIENTS MONEY – Generic Drugs cost considerably less than their brand name counterparts – an estimated 80 to 85% less than the brand name medicine price. A brand name drug requires extensive amounts of research, which translates into it takes a lot of money to get a new drug to market. Most medications start as brand-name drugs, but as patents expire, generic medications begin to hit the market and help patients save money and have better access to medications. We never want our patients to have to make the difficult decision to manage their illness or feed their families. Check out our generic prices.
- GENERICS ARE QUALITY MEDICATIONS – Since we are saving our patients money by buying generics, that doesn’t mean they are receiving medications that are any less effective than the brand name drug. Generic medications must be proven “bioequivalent” to the FDA’s brand name product before becoming available to the public. The term “bioequivalent” means the generic drug’s active ingredient is chemically the same as the brand name drug. The only differences are the “inactive” or “inert” ingredients, which can vary from different manufacturers. Generic drugs act the same in the body and have similar side effect profiles. That said, if you do switch to a generic version of your medication and notice new or worrying symptoms, it’s definitely something to bring up with your doctor.
- GENERICS IMPROVE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE – Once a brand name drug patent expires, multiple generic drug manufacturers can begin to develop the generic medication. The generic becomes widely available at a fraction of the cost of its brand name counterpart. Patients that once could not afford their medicine are now getting relief from their disease. For some disease states, a brand name drug may be your only option. Ask our pharmacist or your doctor if there is a generic equivalent to the brand new medication you have been prescribed.
Getting rid of our insurance contracts and focusing on generics has allowed our pharmacy to reach out to our community in ways we never thought a pharmacy could. An example of our pharmacy’s outreach is our RxAngels Program. This program provides much-needed medications to those in our community who need some assistance – maybe they just lost the income of a loved one, or just lost a job, or had a sudden financial emergency – the reason doesn’t matter. RxAngles is there to help cover the cost of their essential medications. In Alabama, 35% of our population has stopped taking prescriptions due to cost. With the availability of affordable quality generic medications, people are getting better, and we couldn’t be happier for that.
-Alyna Smith, Pharm.D.
Alyna is the Supervising Pharmacist of Pure Life Pharmacy. Learn more about Alyna.