Difference between generic and name brand drugs explained - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/26/09

Difference between generic and name brand drugs explained

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By Cassie Hataway | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - In hard economic times, patients know now that a good way to save money is to buy generic drugs.  The Congressional Budget Office says generic labels save consumers between $8 and $10 billion each year, accounting for nearly 70% of all prescriptions. 

Most of the time they are safe but there are a few situations where the name brand may be the better choice, usually when the patient is sensitive and doesn't respond as well to the generic drug.  The FDA requires a generic drug be identical or the bio-equivalent to its brand name, but the amount that ends up in the bloodstream can range between 80 and 125 percent of the name brand.  "That is enough of a variation that for drugs where you need a very narrow specific concentration in the bloodstream, a generic might be just different enough to cause a clinical problem," said Dr. Jacqueline French of the NYU Langone Medical Center. 

Today, unless a doctor specifically indicates 'brand necessary' or  'dispense as written' on the prescription, most states allow pharmacists to substitute the generic drug and some even require them to find a generic substitution to save the patient money, partly because the insurance companies are promoting the lower co-pays.

The message to patients is to keep good communication with your doctor and ask if you might be better served by the brand drug, especially if you don't feel like you're getting the results you want from that first prescription.  You may want to ask for the brand name to see if that makes a difference.

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