When it comes to discussing the truth about generic drugs, we must first start off with what exactly constitutes a generic. Generics are copies of brand named drugs and are made only when the patent on the original has expired. Therefore, not all brand named drugs have a generic version. According to rules regulated by the FDA, generics have to be the bioequivalent of the innovator drug. Their qualities must match the standards of the original, but they cannot have the same name or look.
According to the law, generics have to look different in appearance so consumers are not confused as to what they are buying. This explains the different look of generics, such as a difference in color or size from the brand we are accustomed to. They may in fact taste or smell different due to differences in their inactive ingredient, but the active ingredient is still the same.
Generics come about usually within a time span of 7 to 12 years after the original. U. S. patents are protected for 20 years, but companies put in their applications several years in advance due to clinical trials. This, therefore, reduces the time generics can enter the market. Once they do, their prices are much lower because the major companies have taken on all of the primary costs.
The lower price is a major plus for price conscious consumers, but safety has always been a concern when it comes to taking generic drugs. The FDA has deemed them safe to use as they are equivalent to their innovator. There are always side effects or possible problems with any drug, so consult a doctor before administering.
Since their lower cost is the major reason why users flock to these drugs, they have become higher in demand. Doctors still tend to prescribe brand named drugs because this is the standard they are use to. It is your option and right to ask for a less expensive, generic alternative.
It may be surprising to know that many of the major brand companies actually manufacture generics. Fifty percent of these non brand drugs are made by major brand named retail drug manufacturers. To increase their share of the market, they produce both types of prescriptions.
There are also drug companies that exclusively manufacture generics. They understand the high demand for low cost prescription and over the counter drugs. There are many Americans who are either under-insured of or not insured at all and need price breaks wherever possible.