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Generic Drugs: They Save Money. But, Are They Safe?

By November 25, 2008


Because of the rising price of brand name prescription drugs and the current economic downturn, many people are turning to generic medications to save money. But, are they as safe and effective as the brand name version?

A generic drug often costs significantly less than the brand name version of the drug. For example, on Drugstore.com, a popular online drugstore, 50 mg. tablets of Zoloft, a medication used to treat depression, recently cost $100.00 for a 30-day supply, while the generic version, Sertraline HCl, cost $15.00 for a 30-day supply - a savings of $85.00!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for approving and regulating the use of generic medications. According to the FDA, all drugs, including brand name drugs and generic drugs, must work well and be safe. Generic drugs use the same active ingredients as their brand name counterparts and, therefore, have the same risks and benefits.

However, there is some controversy about the safety and effectiveness of some generic drugs. Despite the fact that the active ingredient in a generic medication is the same as in the brand name counterpart, small differences could effect how the generic medication works in your body. This may be due to how the generic medication is produced or the type and amount of inactive materials present in the medication. For some people, these slight differences may cause the drug to be less effective or lead to side effects.

Information from Dr. Mike About Generic Drugs

What do you think? Leave a comment below or in the Medication Forum.

To ask me a question about your medication, email me at drugs.guide@about.com.

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November 28, 2008 at 6:13 am
(1) Ben Cousins says:

Hi Dr Mike, I know its only anecdotal evidence but I have used a lot of drugs and found that generic drugs don’t seem to heve less effect than brand names. Here in Australia there was a major Pharmaceutical company who was charged with massive breaches in quality control and subsequently erratic dosage strengths and as a result, they went out of business in the late 1990s.

December 1, 2008 at 10:19 am
(2) Dr. Mike says:

Thanks for your note. Some people are concerned about using generic medications, but for most people in the U.S., the practice is safe. Also, in this time of economic hardship generics can save people a lot of money.

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