Term: Generic Drugs

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A generic drug is a drug that has the same chemical makeup as a patented brand but is sold without patent protection. This typically happens after a patent on a drug has expired, so that other pharmaceutical companies can create a similar drug using the same formula. Patent protection is offered on new drugs that are discovered so that the company who first identified the cure may recoup the money it spent during the research and development of the drug and allow the firm to make a profit off its discovery. This monopoly is only temporary, however, and the patent usually expires within 8-10 years. The generic drug will be a bioequivalent version of the name brand drug, which means that it contains the same amount of active ingredients and dosage. The effects and the way the drug is taken will also be the same.

According to the FDA's Office of Generic Drugs: β€œA generic drug is identical, or bioequivalent to a brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. Although generic drugs are chemically identical to their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantial discounts from the branded price. According to the Congressional Budget Office, generic drugs save consumers an estimated $8 to $10 billion a year at retail pharmacies. Even more billions are saved when hospitals use generics.”

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For a patient to purchase a generic drug over a name-branded drug, he can save a lot of money in the cost of his prescription. A doctor might prescribe a certain name brand of medicine for a patient, but when he brings it to the pharmacist to get the prescription filled, the pharmacist will sometimes offer the option of replacing the drug prescribed with a cheaper generic version. The effects and dosage of the drug will be nearly identical to that of the name brand, but the generic replacement will cost a lot less. This can be useful as well for patients who do not have insurance, as the uninsured retail difference between generic and brand name drugs can be hundreds of dollars. For uninsured or citizens of low socioeconomic status, this may be the only option.

Drug Name Classifications:
Chemical Name
Generic Name
Brand Name

The brand name of the drug is the name that most consumers will know a type of drug by. They will associate the patented name with its purpose. A generic name of the drug is more of a descriptor of the primary chemical but also in a name more easily understood by the consumer. Since the chemical name of the drug contains the ingredients of the pill, it usually is a long list that only pharmacists or chemists can understand. A patient can elect to not receive a generic version of a drug when he receives his prescription, but he must ask the pharmacist to ensure that he receives the name brand kind. Most pharmacists will default to filling a prescription with the generic equivalent. Some insurance companies, however, will not pay the full price for a name brand version of a drug and the customer will have a higher co-pay in these situations.

Drug Name Examples:
Brand Name
Generic Name
Rosuvastatin Calcium

Ongoing Controversy:
Generic substitution has been a controversial issue with regard to medications in general. However, with epilepsy it seems to present certain problems. Professor Frank JE Vajda, an internationally known neuropharmacologist, wrote in The Epilepsy Report as far back as October 2006 that: β€œIn areas such as antiepileptics switching can present problems. The proof for drugs to be accepted as generically equivalent is not comparable to the proof of safety and efficacy required to have a drug initially registered.” There are also those who further claim that not all drugs are created equal as evidenced in the video below:

Web Resources:
Article: //"Generic Drug Controversy Won't Quit."//

Related Terminology:

What is a Generic Drug?
About Brand Name and Generic Drugs
About Generic Drugs
Generic Drug Names