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Generic drugs - Top 10 Facts

When reading the information below please bear in mind that nearly 86% of all prescriptions in the U.S. today are now filled by generic drugs, saving the consumer up to 90 percent over the cost of the brand-name equivalent.

Fact 1. A generic drug is made from identical active ingredients and is available in the same strength and dosage form as the equivalent brand-name product. Generic drugs produce the same effects in the body as the brand-name drugs, because both contain identical active ingredients. The difference is in the name, packaging, lower price and usually color. The brand name is the name under which the product is sold and is protected by a patent for up to 20 years. When this patent expires, other manufacturers can then produce the generic equivalent of the brand drug and sell it under its new generic name.

Fact 2. The FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) requires generics to have the same quality, stability, purity and strength as brand name drugs. Every generic drug is thoroughly laboratory-tested to ensure that the same amount of drug will be absorbed into the bloodstream as with the brand-name drug. Since 1984, no generic drug has been approved in the U.S. unless it has been shown to have the same rate and amount of active drug absorbed as the brand-name drug.

Fact 3. The manufacturing process of all drugs is strictly regulated by the U.S. government and the same standards are met by all manufacturers. The FDA regularly inspects drug manufacturers and recalls any marketed products that do not meet strict production standards. The FDA can even stop the manufacture and sale of products until the company has shown that it manufacturers and tests its drugs in a way that meets the strict FDA standards.

As part of the World Health Organisation strict rules, each manufacturing plant is also inspected by the FDA and must be in compliance with the FDA standards known as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Manufacturers outside the US also have to pass the same guidelines before their drugs can be sold legally.

Fact 4. Many of the generic drugs approved by the FDA are manufactured by companies that also make brand-name drugs. Due to the increased worldwide acceptance of generic drugs, many more generic drugs will become available as brand-name drugs, such as Lipitor lose patent protection. IMS Health indicated that in 2011 drugs worth $60 billion came off patent. By 2014, 18 of the worlds 20 top selling brand name drugs had lost their patent.

This makes you the big winner - as prices for generic drugs are usually 30-90% lower than the brand equivalent.

Fact 5. Health care professionals around the world strongly support the use of generic drugs. The American Medical Association, the largest organization of medical doctors, states that generic drug products are acceptable for use by the American public. Most hospitals and insurance policies routinely use generic drugs for treatment of their patients, simply because generics are much cheaper.

Fact 6. A generic drug is as safe and provides the same therapeutic effects as the brand-name product for patients of all ages. Generic drugs have no proven age-related side effects that are different from brand-name drugs. Generics have been shown to be as safe as brand-name drugs and work no differently in children or the elderly.

Fact 7. Nine out of the top 10 prescription drugs sold in 2008 were generics. In fact, the top prescription sold in 2008 was the generic version of Vicodin®. There is a increasing demand for generic drugs with the generic drug market growing by 7.8% in 2009.

This growth is likely to continue due to a significant number of blockbuster brand drugs losing their patents from 2009, including AmbienCR, Arimidex, Cellcept, Keppra, Flomox,Imigran, Lipitor, Plavix, Prevacid, Topamax, Valtrex and Zyprexa.

Fact 8. The American public spent over $200 billion dollars on prescription drugs in 2009. With the price of generic drugs averaging 15 to 80 percent less than the cost of brand name drugs, the American public can save billions of dollars by simply switching to generic drugs. Overall, these savings help lower the cost of health care in the U.S. without reducing the quality or safety offered to patients.

Fact 9. Generic drugs provide an essential way for senior citizens to dramatically lower their cost of prescription medications. Senior citizens represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, and they account for 25 to 33 percent of the prescription drugs used each year. Senior citizens use an average of 11 different prescriptions per year. Because many people over the age of 65 have fixed incomes, a considerable amount of savings can be gained through the use of generic drugs.

Fact 10. The decision to use generic medications is ultimately made through the cooperation of your physician, your pharmacist, and yourself. Please ask your physician or pharmacist if any of the prescription medications that you are currently taking can be filled with a generic alternative. Once you start using generic drugs you will start to lower your prescription drug costs whilst maintaining the same strength, dose and quality as the brand-name drug. Most brand name drugs have a generic equivalent, so please ask your physician if there is a generic equivalent available to you.

What is the best source of information about generic drugs?
Please contact your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare worker for information on your generic drugs.

For more information about Generic Drugs please visit our Generic Prescription Drug Information Center.


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