Navigating the world of pharmacology can be overwhelming for healthcare providers and patients alike due to the vast number of brand name and generic drugs available. While patients may be prescribed a medication at their appointment, they may be surprised to find a different name on their prescription bottle when they get home. It’s important for healthcare providers to help patients understand the difference between brand name and generic drugs to ensure they are comfortable with their prescriptions.
Although brand name and generic drugs contain the same active ingredient, have the same level of safety and efficacy, and may have different appearances, the inactive ingredients are typically different, as are their costs. Healthcare providers may refer to a drug by its brand name, but they will most likely prescribe the generic version. In fact, state laws require pharmacies to fill the generic version of a drug unless the healthcare provider specifies otherwise, as the generic version is usually less expensive.
The cost difference between brand name and generic drugs can be attributed to the drug development process. Pharmaceutical companies spend a significant amount of money on research, development, and clinical trials to obtain a US patent and market the drug to the public. Once the patent expires, other pharmaceutical companies can produce their own version of the drug, known as a generic version, without incurring the same research and clinical trial costs. This creates competition in the market and drives prices lower.
If a medication is only available in the brand name form, it may be very expensive and not covered by insurance. Healthcare providers can appeal to insurance companies for coverage, but pharmaceutical companies may also offer coupons to help offset the cost. It’s important for patients to ask questions about their medications and for healthcare providers to practice informed-decision making when it comes to prescribing brand name and generic drugs. While pharmaceutical companies aim to make a profit, they also prioritize improving the quality of healthcare through drug development.