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Dec 14, 2020


Brand vs. Generic Drugs, Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Generic Drug?

A generic drug is basically a copy of a brand name drug. The active ingredient of the generic drug is equivalent to the one in the brand name one. It therefore works in the body in the same way as brand name drugs. A generic drug actually has to show that its active ingredients get to the bloodstream in the same amount of time as the brand name does. You will also notice that generic brands typically have the same method of administration, whether it’s a pill or inhaler or other. The brand name and generic are also similar in their dosage strength, safety, quality, absorption time and route, and more. All of this is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Are Generic Drugs as Safe and Effective as Brand Name Drugs?

Yes, absolutely. Because all brand name drugs and brand name counterparts go through the same rigorous process, they are both approved to have the same safety and effectiveness. In fact, as stated previously, the FDA takes into consideration what the brand name has already been approved for. The generic version has to meet all of the same requirements in order to sell the drug in the United States. The only differences allowed in the developing and marketing of the generic brand are in flavor, color, and packaging. FDA requires every other element to be the same. 

What is the Approval Process for Generic Drugs?

The FDA has a very specific process for generic medicines being approved. FDA-approved generic drugs have to be applied for by drug companies. This is called the ANDA, or abbreviated new drug application. The drug manufacturing company does not have to get the active and inactive ingredients approved again if they have already been through animal and clinical trials and have been approved. The company must provide proof that the drug product has the same ingredients though as the brand name drugs. 

In order for the FDA to approve a generic drug, it must have the same active ingredients as the brand name drug, have the same strength, dosage form, route of administration, use indications, have the same identity, strength, purity, and quality. The brand name and generic must also be manufactured adhering to the same strict standards from the FDA.

How Come a Generic Drug Looks Different from a Brand Name Drug?

The brand name products and generic products can have a different color and taste, and be marketed with different packaging. This is the extent of the variation that the FDA allows between the products. 

Do All Brand Name Drugs Have Generic Versions?

No, not all brand name drugs have generic counterparts. This depends on the patent for the brand name drug. The drug product may be under a patent that lasts 20 years, meaning no one can even make an equivalent until the patent is up. 

Should I Use a Generic or Brand Name Drugs?

Either one! If your brand name drug has a generic equivalent, you may choose the generic version in order to save money. Oftentimes you will notice a difference in price between the two options. Because of the rigorous FDA approval process and the necessity that both be completely equivalent in ingredients and effects, there is no difference between the two. The only difference will be the color, the packaging, the taste, if any variation at all. 

Generic drugs are a great way to save money when getting your prescriptions. According to the 2017 Association for Accessible Medicine’s “Generic Drug Access & Savings in the US” report, the Association states:

“This ninth annual edition of the report finds that generic medicines generated $253 billion in savings for patients and taxpayers in 2016. In the last decade, the U.S. healthcare system has saved $1.67 trillion due to the availability of low-cost generics.”

Another great way to save money on your prescriptions, whether there is a generic version of your brand name medicine or not, is using Carecard. Carecard is free and can save you up to 85% on your prescriptions!

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Pharmacy names, logos, brands, and other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Prescription savings may vary by prescription and by pharmacy, and in some cases may be discounted up to 85% off cash price*. Please note, this is NOT insurance. CareCard offers you the opportunity to find prescription discount prices, which ultimately depend on the provider. You are fully responsible for paying for all health care services but will be entitled to receive a discount from those health care providers in accordance with the specific pre-negotiated discounted rates. CareCard Inc. is not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the pharmacies identified in its price comparisons. This information is not mean to be a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. For additional information, please reach our customer support at 1-866-410-1217, Mon- Friday 9am – 5pm Est or email us at By using the CareCard prescription discount card or service, you are agreeing to CareCard’s Terms of Service.

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