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Generic Drugs - Myths and Facts
Generic drugs are important options that allow greater access to health care for all Americans. The popularity of generic drugs has recently reached such an extent that more and more prescriptions filled are done for generic drugs and not for the brand ones. Generic drugs are bioequivalent to brand-name drugs and are the same in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. Today, 7 in 10 prescriptions filled in the United States are for generic drugs. This article explains about the nature of generic drugs and debunks some common myths regarding these medications.
Myth: Generic medications are not as safe as brand-name drugs.
Fact: Since generics contain the same active ingredients as their brand-name counterparts and work the same way in the body, generics are as safe and effective as their brand-name equivalents. The reported side effects evoked by generic medications are generally the same as those that have already been known for brand-name drugs.
Myth: Generic drugs differ from the brand name counterpart by up to 45 percent.
Fact: This claim is false. All the clinical trials and investigations performed during the period of approximately the last ten years showed only 3.5 percent difference in the absorption of generics and brand drugs by the body. Every generic has its reference brand medication and is required to work with the same efficiency with a slight allowance for variability.
Myth: Generics drugs are made by less reliable manufacturers therefore these products are cheaper than branded drugs.
Fact: Generic manufacturers are able to sell their products for lower prices, not because the products are of lesser quality, but because generic manufacturers generally do not engage in costly advertising, marketing and promotion, or significant research and development. Furthermore many of the generic drugs approved and manufactured by companies that make brand name drugs as well.
Myth: There are quality problems with generic drug manufacturing. A recent recall of generic Digoxin (Digitek) shows that generic drugs put patients at risk.
Fact: FDA's aggressive action in this case demonstrates the high standards to which all prescription drugs - generic and brand name - are held.
Myth: Generic drugs are not as effective as brand-name drugs.
Fact: Generic drug manufacturers have to ensure that their products are of the same quality, strength, purity, and stability as the brand-name products.
Myth: Generic drugs take longer to act in the body.
Fact: In seeking approval for their products, generic manufacturers must submit evidence that their drugs delivers the same amount of active ingredient in the same time frame as the branded product and also have same quality, strength, purity, and stability as the brand-name products.
Myth: Brand-name manufacturers test new drugs in thousands of patients, but it lets generic firms get by with tests in only 20 to 30 healthy volunteers.
Fact: Generic drugs are duplicate copy of branded product which is already tested so there is no need to test it on thousands of patients. Generic manufacturers need only prove that their drug reacts as same way in the body as the original version.
Myth: People who are switched to a generic drug are risking treatment failure.
Fact: There is no evidence for this claim. Treatment failures can and do occur when taking generic or brand name drugs. If someone is switched to a generic drug around the time they are relapsing, they may attribute the problem to the switch.
To sum it all up, generic drugs are just as effective and safe as brand-name drugs. Unless you want to waste a large amount of money by using brand-name instead of generic drugs, ask your pharmacist to fill your prescription with a generic, especially if you are starting on a drug for the first time.