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Pharmacy Corner

Are generic drugs the same?

A generic drug is identical, or bioequivalent to a brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. Although generic drugs are chemically identical to their branded counterparts, they are typically sold for substantially less. According to the Congressional Budget Office, generic drugs save consumers an estimated $8 to $10 billion a year at retail pharmacies. Even more is saved when hospitals use generics.

New drugs, like other new products, are developed under patent protection. The patent protects the investment made by a company to develop a drug by giving them the sole right to sell it while the patent is in effect. When patents or other periods of exclusivity expire, other manufacturers can apply to the FDA to sell generic versions of the drug. Because manufacturers of generic drugs are not required to repeat costly research on ingredients or dosages already approved for the brand product, they are able to sell the drug for less.

If you are on oral medications for diabetes and you are paying $50 or even $30 copayments, ask your doctor if there is a generic in that same class of drug that might be suitable for you.

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