Are generic drugs as safe and effective as brand name drugs? In most cases, the answer to that question is yes. This question has come about due to some myths about generic drugs that need to be cleared up.
Some people ask the question, "Are generic drugs as safe and effective as brand name drugs?" because they think generic drugs don't need to be tested as much as the brand name ones. In truth, the brand name manufacturers go through a rigorous testing process to prove the safety of the drug. By the time generic versions are manufactured, the safety of the medication has already been proven, but the FDA still wants to ensure that manufacturing facilities and ingredients are up to standard, so they test these aspects of the generic drugs instead.
Another reason for the question "Are generic drugs as safe and effective as brand name drugs?" is the mistaken belief that generic drugs are manufactured by small, substandard laboratories. Although the FDA testing would do away with the substandard part anyway, you may be reassured to know that 80% of generic drugs are manufactured by the big name drug companies. In almost all cases you're getting a product from a company that does the brand name drugs as well.
Yet another cause of the question "Are generic drugs as safe and effective as brand name drugs?" is the question of whether they're bioequivalent or not. Bioequivalence means the amount of time it takes the drug to get into your bloodstream is identical. There are a lot of myths about generic drugs not being tested for bioequivalence, but the truth is that in most cases they are. There are some cases where this factor can vary, though, especially in issues of timed release vs. direct release. If this issue concerns you, it's best to discuss it with your doctor and find out if he or she thinks you need a prescription that specifies brand name drug only.
A final cause of the question "Are generic drugs as safe and effective as brand name drugs?" is the fact that pharmacies often switch between generic drug versions at different times depending on which are cheaper and more readily available. If you consistently take the brand name drug version, it may be easier to remember what the medication looks like. However, if you are prescribed the generic version, one month your medication might be a large round white pill and the next month it might be a small pink tablet. This can get confusing and cause accidents like taking the wrong dose of medicine or taking the wrong medicine, especially in the elderly or people who need to take a variety of medications due to complex health problems. This issue has nothing to do with the inherent safety or efficacy of the generic medications, but it can cause problems so if it's a concern for you, discuss it with your pharmacist or ask your doctor to prescribe brand name medication only.
By Nehal Abidi Medical student
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