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Difference between Brand-Name Meds and Their Generics

2018-12-06

Difference between Brand-Name Meds and Their Generics

Choosing between brand-name meds and their generic counterparts can be such a dilemma. You’re told that both of the meds can treat your condition, but then you notice that some of the differences are just too pronounced. Here in today’s post we will go over the features that make the brand-name medications and their generic versions different, all to make your next visit to the pharmacy or your doctor less troubling.

A brand-name med is the original version of a drug. It had undergone extensive scientific studies and a series of clinical trials before it was considered safe for consumption. Generics, on the other hand, are merely a copy of the brand-name medication. Generic versions borrow the formula of the branded med, and all they are required to do is come up with an equivalent of the original. The US FDA and similar authorities abroad approve generic drugs after determining that their purity, potency, and strength are similar to those of the original medications.

The Ingredients of the Brand-Name Meds vs Generics

Brand name meds and their generics have the same active ingredient. One example would be Viagra made by Pfizer (the brand-name drug) and its generic version manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals. There are several other manufacturers of generic Viagra, but we will use Teva’s product as an example. Both meds contain sildenafil citrate as the active ingredient. This is the component that keeps away the symptoms of erectile dysfunction by increasing the blood flow to the erectile tissue during sexual stimulation.

However, there is more to a drug than the active ingredient. It contains coloring agents, binders, fillers and many other excipients. If you compare the inactive ingredients in Pfizer’s Viagra and Teva’s sildenafil, you will come across some obvious differences. The brand name pills contain hypromellose which regulates delivery of the med, lactose which helps form the tablets, aluminum oxide, Triacetin and FD&C Blue No. 2 which is the coloring agent. These ingredients are not found in the generic. Teva sildenafil, on the other hand, contains polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, and talc which are not found in the branded Viagra. However, the meds have some excipients in common too including anhydrous dibasic calcium phosphate and croscarmellose sodium.

Since the active ingredient is the same for both the generic pills and the branded medication, the effects of the drugs are pretty much the same. The differences are only limited to the excipients which will give the drugs their characteristic taste and unique appearance.

The Pharmacological Properties

The onset of action, the duration of action, side effects, drug interactions and contraindications of the branded meds and the generics are very similar. This is because of the common active ingredient in these versions of drugs. However, there may be slight differences because of the other components used when making the meds.

The FDA requires that a generic drug works exactly the way its brand-name alternative does and that, of course, applies to the resulting concentrations of the active ingredient in the patient’s blood. However, it allows fluctuations of up to 10 percent below or above the concentrations of the branded meds. These slight differences may cause some variations in intensity of side effects and their occurrence as well as the duration of action, especially for the drugs that have a narrow therapeutic index. However, in most cases, these variations are subtle, and the users rarely notice them.

The Difference in Prices of Brand-Name Meds and Generics

The price of the branded meds is always very high compared to that of the generics. This is because the makers of the branded meds need to earn back the money they spent on research and development of the meds. Estimates show that the development of a new drug may cost up to several billions of dollars. The manufacturers of brand-name meds are therefore looking to recoup these costs as well as make some good profits out of their hard work. The manufacturers of generic meds don’t spend as much on research, and they still realize significant profits even if they sell their products at low prices. What’s more, the manufacturers of generic meds are usually many, so the competition inevitably leads to a drop in price.

The Appearance of The Drugs

Manufacturers always want to come up with unique products. The brand name meds, therefore, have appearances that are different from the generic drugs. Even the various generics have different looks. In fact, some manufacturers such as Pfizer even protect the appearance of their products with patents so that they can keep imitators away. However, in some instances, two versions of the same product may look different from each other despite being manufactured by the same firm. An example is GSK’s Amoxil sold in the UK and the US. The concentrations of the meds are similar, but the capsules have different colors and imprints in different markets.

Brand-Name Meds and Generics May Have Different Uses

In some cases, the brand name meds and their generics may be used for different purposes. For example, Cialis is a medication manufactured by Eli Lily and used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and benign prostate hyperplasia. Some of its generic versions are, however, meant for the treatment of erectile dysfunction alone and, even more, some may be used to fight pulmonary arterial hypertension. These meds could be having the same active ingredient, but the different uses prompt the manufacturers to make and market them under different brands.

For some drugs, the brand names can be strictly prescription meds, but the generics might be available over the counter. Even in such cases, the meds are supposed to have the same effects as long as they are legit. Some countries also impose restrictions on the sale of specific generic meds, usually until they are approved by internal authorities in charge of the pharmaceutical market.

It is now known that a large percentage of the drugs being prescribed are generic meds. This comes as no surprise considering the cost of brand name pills. After realizing that brand name meds and generics have a lot in common, the general public usually goes for the latter. However, in some cases, you might be advised to stick to the brand name especially for drugs with a narrow therapeutic index.