Generic or Brand Drug? What is the Difference?

When you visit a pharmacy or walk up to the medicine aisle of any grocery store, you will most likely see brand drugs alongside generic ones. The experience may lead you to ask the following questions: What is the difference between the generic and brand drugs? What does generic mean in drugs? How effective are generic drugs? Are generic drugs safe? Why do generic drugs cost much less than their branded counterparts? This article will attempt to answer these questions.

What Does Generic Mean In Drugs?

The word generic has several meanings in the pharmaceutical industry. For one, the term refers to the scientific name of a drug. It can also refer to the chemical composition of the drug rather than its advertised brand name. Finally, the term generic can also refer to the drug sold under its scientific name without advertising. Metoprolol, for example, is the generic name of a drug used for hypertension. It is marketed by some companies by its generic name and by other companies by a brand name such as Lopressor. When you try to search for metoprolol in an online store such as FairPriceRx, for example, you will see that it describes the drug as generic Lopressor.

Generic or Brand Drug

What Are Brand Drugs?

When a company becomes the first to produce a particular drug, it earns the privilege of naming or “branding” that drug. To be the first one to produce a particular type of drug requires a significant amount of money and time. It is not uncommon for a company to spend millions of dollars over a period of several years in order to produce a single drug.This is the reason why brand drugs are much more expensive than generic ones.

A drug has to go through several processes before it can be sold in the market. It has to go through research and then it has to be tested and developed before it can be mass produced. The company also needs to ensure the public that the drug is effective and safe by conducting a series of laboratory studies over a period of several years. It is also through laboratory studies where the proper dosage of a drug is determined.

The drug also has to go through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval before it can reach store shelves. Some of the FDA’s tasks include scrutinizing the clinical and laboratory findings, assessing the manufacturing processes, and verifying the drug’s purity and strength. After getting the FDA’s approval, the company can already give the drug a brand name. The brand name is protected by a patent so other companies cannot copy or duplicate the drug and its formulation.

Patents do not last forever though. When the patent of a particular drug expires other companies can ask FDA’s permission to make and sell a generic version of that drug. Companies can also produce versions of drugs that have never been patented. The new manufacturers must be able to prove to the FDA that their version of the drug contains the same active ingredients as the original one. They must also be able to ensure that their generic drug maintains the form, concentration and dosage of the original drug. In short, the new version of the drug must be able to perform the job of the original one before it can be approved as a worthy substitute.

You may notice though that generic drugs do not look exactly the same as brand drugs even though they contain the same active ingredients. This is because trademark laws prevent drug companies from producing drugs that look exactly the same as brand drugs. Often, these companies change the color and even the size of their products. Generic drugs may also contain different inactive ingredients such as fillers or preservatives.

The new manufacturers of the drug do not have to go through the same costly research and development. This is the reason why they can sell the generic drug at a lower cost and still earn money. When other companies start to produce the same generic drug, competition will further drag the price down.

Are Generic Drugs Effective And Safe?

Because they contain the same active ingredients as brand drugs and because they also undergo FDA approval, it is safe to conclude that generic drugs are as effective and safe as brand drugs. Of course, it is always recommended that you buy drugs from a reputable source.

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