Generics vs. Brand Name Prescription Drugs
A common way to reduce the cost of prescriptions is to use generic instead of brand name drugs. Generic drugs are formulated with nearly the same ingredients as brand name drugs, and can be sold once a drug patent (20 years) has expired. This helps explain why blockbuster, brand name drugs can be so expensive -- the pharma companies need to make a profit margin during the 20-year patent period before their profits drop like a rock. This helps cover the cost of research and development and running their business.
The best time to determine if a generic is right for you is when discussing treatment with your doctor. Asking your physician about generic options is a good habit to get in to, and can save you a lot of money over the long haul. Pharmacists can also provide information about generics, but will often refer you back to your physician since they may not know all the details of your case. Additionally, pharmacists must fill the prescription as written by your physician, so your doctor is the best person to discuss your alternatives with.
To be more educated about your drug options, go to the Federal Drug Administration's website. This site will help you identify if there is a generic equivalent for a drug that you are concerned about.
While it used to pay to shop around for generics, a patient-friendly development in recent years has created very competitive generic drug prices, and much of your research can be done online. Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and many other chains now offer common generics for as low as $4 per month. We provide an interactive way of finding discount generics near you at our Discount Generic Drug Radar.
Remember that drug choices should be made by you and your physician, with help from your pharmacist. Consider it a three-person "drug therapy team" to make the choices that are right for your health as well as your pocketbook.