Generic drugs vs. brand name drugs: we’ve all heard the discussions and the arguments about which one is better to buy. Obviously, in the battle of generic drugs vs. brand name drugs, the generic drugs have the overwhelming advantage and victory in terms of price. You would have to be crazy to choose brand name drugs over their generic counterparts…wouldn’t you?
Maybe not, many people say. For in the battle of generic drugs vs. brand name drugs, there is a prevailing idea that there must be something compromised in the generic drugs. They must be inferior, or not made quite properly. Perhaps they’re even dangerous. So we have to shell out the big bucks to make sure that we are getting the quality and the safety that we need in the medications. Right?
Let’s look more deeply into this matter of “generic drugs vs. brand name drugs”. We can get our true answers only by asking the right questions. The questions that we need to logically start with are: “Where do generic drugs come from in the first place?” and “Why do brand name drugs cost so much?” We should also probably ask “How can the makers of brand name drugs compete and stay in business when they are charging such high prices?”
Why Generic Drugs Cost So Much Money
When a pharmaceutical manufacturer puts a new drug on the market, that company has already spent obscene amounts of money. In fact, it costs a company an average of $800 million and three years’ time to develop just one new drug-and then, if the FDA shoots it down in the final stages of trials, that’s a terrible loss to the drug maker. Drug makers who introduce new drugs must recoup their costs for research and development, manufacture, marketing, and distribution of the drug. They can only do this through their prices.
In acknowledgment of these hard facts about what a drug maker goes through to introduce just one new drug, the government grants them temporary patent protection on each new drug that successfully passes the clinical trials for safety and effectiveness. This means that for a temporary period (typically 20 years dating from the time that the maker first started developing the drug), nobody else is permitted to make a generic or competing formulation of that drug, and the drug maker is allowed to keep its formula under lock and key. This is why these very expensive drugs can “compete”: their competition is temporarily gagged out of fairness to the original maker of the drugs.
Once the patent protection is nearing expiration, other drug makers start applying to be able to learn the formula and make an exact or nearly exact copy of the drug in question. These companies never had to do the research and development, scientific trials, or marketing for the drug-thus, they will be able to simply copy the drug and do some minimal marketing of it because it is already so familiar, having been around for about 20 years and already familiar to doctors, hospitals, and end users. Since their costs are so low, they can keep their prices low. Furthermore, once many competitors start making the same generic drug, its price will go down even more thanks to competition and wide availability.
So, What’s Wrong with the Generic Drugs?
In the generic drugs vs. brand name drugs duel, the argument in favor of continuing to buy the brand name drugs at the higher prices is simple: these generics must be compromised in quality and, perhaps, in safety. The generic makers may not be getting the original formula quite right. Or, they may be slipping in cheapened ingredients to help keep their costs low and their prices competitive. Well, time was that this was a pretty sound argument. The goods news for your wallet and bank account is that times have changed.
Our science, drug making technology, and regulatory efforts with drug making and marketing have all greatly advanced in the last 50 years. Generic drug makers cannot sell their drugs unless they correspond almost exactly with the originals because regulations prohibit them from doing so. The generic drugs must have the same active ingredient, in the same amount and with the same delivery mechanism into the bloodstream, as the brand name drugs that they correspond to. The only caution is that generic drugs may contain very slightly different inactive ingredients than the brand name counterparts, and this might cause allergic reactions in some people. Other than that, however, everything crucial about the drug must be same as the original-even the possible side effects! All generic drug forms must be proven 100% as safe as their brand name counterparts before they are allowed to be sold, too. But since the brand name drugs have been around for so long by the time their generic forms emerge, this is very easy to ensure.
When it comes to generic drugs vs. brand name drugs, therefore, it almost always is the better choice to spend far less money and get a generic form (if one exists, of course). There are occasional exceptions: for instance, diseases like cancer and many bacterial infections are unstable. That is, they are constantly changing and what worked on them 20 years ago might work so well now, so that a new brand name form of the old drug is now required in many people. But in the end, you can rest assured that the battle of generic drugs vs. brand name drugs is usually won by the generic counterparts.