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Generic vs. Name Brand Medicines

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Authored by Malcolm Tatum in Medicine
Published on 01-14-2010

Generic medications are a huge topic today. Many insurance companies encourage the use of generic medication when and as possible by covering a larger amount of the cost for the medicine. Some people wonder if there are any real differences between these generic brands and the pricier name brands that are supposed to accomplish the same goal. On that front, there is some controversy as to whether generics are just as good, or if going with a name brand is always the right thing to do.

Many pharmacists are quick to note that there is no difference at all between generic drugs and their pricier name brands. In most countries, generics must include the same amount of the ingredients used in the name brands, essentially making them the same medication, just without the fancy name. For this reason, pharmacists will often use generic drugs to fill prescriptions, unless the customer specifically asks for the name brand.

Insurance companies also have tons of research that indicate that there is no difference between a generic drug and its name brand counterpart. This research is often based on results from controlled testing using people who are divided into groups and observed for extended periods of time. According to these research attempts, those who take a generic drug do as well as those who take the name brand. Based on this research, as well as the fact that generic drugs cost much less, insurance companies actively set up prescription plans that encourage the use of generics, using enhanced coverage and lower co-pays as incentives.

While there are plenty of medical experts that agree there is no difference between generic and name brand medicines, not everyone agrees. From time to time, issues regarding the efficacy of a specific generic drug may come to light. A casual browse through the Internet reveals a great deal of anecdotal evidence from actual patients who find that the generic drug does not provide the same effect as the name brand. Many patients have found this to be true with medications that help with depression, anxiety, seizures, and a number of other ongoing health issues.

Along with anecdotal evidence that indicates the generics do not work as well as the name brands, there are also patients that do very well with generic drugs, and are happy they can pay less for their monthly supply of medication. For these patients, generics are often considered a real blessing, since they make it easier to manage a health problem without having to deal with all the expense associated with many name brands. They are happy to go with generic drugs, and could care less about the fancy name, as long as the drugs do the job.

In the end, it is often a good idea to try the generic drug first. If the generic does not seem to be working, talk with your doctor about specifying that the prescription be filled with a name brand. Many insurance companies will still cover a significant amount of the cost, if the doctor’s orders make this specification. Keep in mind that just as there is a difference between different name brands, there is likely a difference between the generics made by different companies. If one generic does not do the job, a generic made by a different company may provide the relief that you need, without the cost of the name brand.

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