|What is a generic drug?
A generic drug is a copy
of a brand name drug whose patent has expired. The original manufacturer of
a drug receives a patent on the drug and is the only manufacturer who can
produce and sell the drug during this patent period. Once the patent
expires, other manufacturers may produce and sell the drug. These
manufacturers usually sell the drug under its common or generic name.
Most drugs have three names:
Since chemical names are usually long and complicated, the drugs
are given a standard, shorter generic name. Manufacturers will
usually give drugs brand names to identify that manufacturer's
version of the product. An example of these three names, using a well known
prescription drug is as follows:
- chemical name — 7-chloro-1,3-dihydro-1-
- generic name — diazepam; and
Who makes generic drugs?
There are many manufacturers of generic drugs in the United States. Some
of these companies make only generic drugs, and some are divisions of major
companies which also produce brand name drugs.
Why do generic drugs cost less than brand name drugs?
A large portion of the cost of brand name drugs covers the high cost of
research and development. Generic manufacturers do not have to duplicate the
cost of research and marketing conducted by the original manufacturer.
Therefore, the cost of the generic drug is usually less.
Are generic drugs as reliable as the brand name product?
All drugs considered to be generically equivalent to a brand name
product must meet strict manufacturing requirements set by the Federal Food
and Drug Administration (FDA). These requirements include tests which assure
that the product is bioequivalent to the brand name product.
Bioequivalent means that the same amount of active ingredient is
delivered to the body at the same time, and used by the body, in the same
way as the brand name product. Therefore, generically bioequivalent
drugs should produce the same results as the brand name product.
How do I know if my pharmacist used a generic drug on my prescription?
Texas law requires the pharmacist to indicate that a generic drug has
been substituted for a brand name drug by placing on the container the
statement, "Substituted for Brand Prescribed," or "Substituted for
Brand Name," where Brand Name is the actual name of
the brand name product prescribed, e.g., "Substituted for Valium."
If you have a question about a specific prescription, ask your pharmacist.
How do I request that my prescriptions be issued for generic drugs?
Ask your doctor to indicate on your prescription that a generic drug may
Do I have a choice? Can I ask the pharmacist NOT to substitute a generic
drug for a brand name drug on my prescription?
Yes, you have the right to refuse a generic substitution. The pharmacist
must then dispense the brand name drug.
You should be aware, however, that some insurance companies or state aid
programs will not pay, or will pay less, for a prescription if a brand name
drug is used. In this situation, you may have to pay the cost of the brand
name drug or a higher co-payment if you want the brand name drug.