If your pharmacist ever asks you to substitute a generic drug for your prescription, here are some facts you should know. Coatings, colorings or shapes may vary, but the active ingredient in a generic drug is chemically identical to the brand-name drug.
When a patent expires on a brand-name drug, generic manufacturers may apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for permission to produce that drug. Generic drugs must meet the same stringent FDA requirements and inspections for chemistry, manufacturing controls and labeling, and must produce the same clinical results.
However, since generic producers don’t spend as much for research and development, advertising or marketing, their products can be sold at lower prices-sometimes up to 75 percent less. Many familiar drugs, such as ibuprofen and prednisone, were once brand-name prescription drugs.
“Generic formulations have a long track record and have been proven safe,” said Merle Fossen, Pharm.D., director of Pharmacy Affairs for the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy in Alexandria, Virginia. “About 45 percent of all prescriptions filled are for generic drugs.”
You may want to ask your doctor if switching to a generic is appropriate for you. Or, ask your pharmacist for more information about what generic equivalents may be available for your prescriptions.
The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy is a professional association of managed care pharmacists who serve patients and the public by the promotion of wellness and rational drug therapy. You can learn more about AMCP and managed care pharmacy at www.amcp.org .