DefinitionThe Food and Drug Administration explains that a generic drug is a copy equal in quality, strength, purity and stability to the brand name. Generic drug manufacturers make drugs for less because they do not invest money into research and development or marketing, and can pass the savings on to consumers.
HistoryThe Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 established generic drug competition in the marketplace, providing access to affordable and safe medication for American consumers. The Act also provides a period of protection against competition for the company that makes the brand name product.
Toward the end of that period, other companies can apply to make a generic product, using the same active ingredients in the brand name.
IdentificationBy trademark law, the size, color and shape of a pill are protected in the same way a brand pill name is. Generic drugs must differ in size, shape and color, but will have the same medication.
A generic medication will specify somewhere on the bottle or pharmacy literature that it has been substituted for the brand name.
MisconceptionsGeneric drugs do not take longer to work, they are not of a lesser quality, they have the same strict quality control, and only in rare cases will generic drugs give you different side effects from their brand counterparts.
Prevention/SolutionAccording to the Tufts Health Plan, your pharmacy may automatically give you a generic medication unless you or your doctor specifically says otherwise. On the prescription itself, your doctor may check a box marked "Dispense As Written" (DAW) or "No Substitutions."
If she does not, you may specifically request the name brand. However, your insurance may charge you more or refuse to pay unless there is a specific reason you need it While pharmacies offer generic prescription medications to help consumers save money, pharmacists often don't inform patients about the differences between brand and generic labels until the patient is picking up the medication at the pharmacy.