Learn about Generic Drugs
What are generic drugs?
Are generic drugs as safe as brand-name drugs?
Are generic drugs as strong as brand-name drugs?
Why are generic drugs less expensive?
Are brand-name drugs made in more modern facilities than generic drugs?
If brand-name drugs and generic drugs have the same active ingredients, why do they look different?
Does every brand-name drug have a generic counterpart?
Are generic drugs always cheaper?
I was prescribed a brand-name drug, but I received a generic. Why?
When are generic drugs a good choice?
Do doctors always recommend generics?
When should I ask for a generic drug?

Q. What are generic drugs?
A. A generic drug is identical to a brand name drug in dosage, safety, strength, how often it is taken, quality, performance and intended use.

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Q. Are generic drugs as safe as brand-name drugs?
A. Yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, requires that all drugs be safe and effective. Since generics use the same active ingredients and are shown to work the same way in the body, they have the same risks and benefits as their brand-name counterparts.

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Q. Are generic drugs as strong as brand-name drugs?
A. Yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, requires generic drugs to have the same quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name drugs. Because of this, generic drugs work in the same way and in the same amount of time as brand name drugs.

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Q. Why are generic drugs less expensive?
A. One of the main reasons is because generic manufacturers don't have to recover their costs to discover the drug and typically have less marketing costs to recover. New drugs are developed under patent protection, which lasts about 17 years. Generic manufacturers don't have the same development and promotional costs, so they can sell their product at substantial discounts. Also, there is greater competition, which keeps the price down. Today, almost half of all prescriptions are filled with generic drugs.

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Q. Are brand-name drugs made in more modern facilities than generic drugs?
A. No. Both brand name and generic drug facilities must meet the same standards of good manufacturing practices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, won't permit drugs to be made in substandard facilities. The FDA conducts about 3,500 inspections a year to ensure standards are met. Generic firms have facilities comparable to those of brand-name firms. In fact, brand-name firms account for an estimated 50 percent of generic drug production. They frequently make copies of their own or other brand-name drugs but sell them without the brand name.

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Q. If brand name drugs and generic drugs have the same active ingredients, why do they
look different?

A. In the United States, trademark laws do not allow a generic drug to look exactly like the brand-name drug. However, a generic drug must duplicate the active ingredient and the way it works in the body. Colors, flavors, and certain other inactive ingredients may be different.

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Q. Does every brand name drug have a generic counterpart?
A. No. When brand-name drugs are first introduced, most are patent protected for 17 years. This provides protection for the innovator who incurred the initial costs (including research, development, and marketing expenses) to develop the new drug. However, when the patent expires, other drug companies can introduce competitive generic versions, but only after they have been thoroughly tested by the manufacturer and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA.

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Q. Are generic drugs always cheaper?
A. Yes. Generic manufacturers don't have the same development and promotional costs as the brand name manufacturer had, so they can sell their product at substantial discounts. This makes generic drugs the single most important cost saving opportunity for older Americans.

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Q. I was prescribed a brand name drug, but I received a generic. Why?
A. Many states allow the pharmacist to automatically substitute an appropriate generic. This saves you money while assuring you receive the medication that will work for you. To save money, always ask if there is a generic that can be substituted.

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Q. When are generic drugs a good choice?
A. Generic drugs are a good option to save money on prescription costs. If a generic drug is available for the brand-name drug you are currently taking, you will save money by switching. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, requires generic drugs to have the same quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name drugs.

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Q. Do physicians always recommend generics?
A. No. Physicians often prescribe brand name drugs, but you can always ask your physician if a generic substitute is available. Additionally, in many states, pharmacists are allowed to substitute a generic for the brand name drug.

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Q. When should I ask for a generic drug?
A. Canadian Meds USA and TCDS recommend that you ask your doctor if a generic drug is available as a way to manage the cost of your prescriptions. If a generic is not available, or the cost of the drug you are taking is too expensive, ask your physician or our pharmacist if there is a less expensive drug that could be prescribed.

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