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Many consumers have learned throughout their lifetimes that they shouldn't pay a high price for something if there's an adequate and less expensive alternative. Does the same hold true for generic and name brand drugs? How do you know if you can get away with using a generic brand drug when your prescription calls for a name brand?
Prescription prices are already high enough. They've climbed for years and during the past few years, the prices you pay for prescription drugs have finally been leveling. Some generic drugs are just as good as their brand name counterparts. In fact, some managed care plans use generic drugs as a way to help keep costs to a minimum, but encouraging use of generic prescriptions. But is that safe?
The active ingredients in generic prescription drugs are exactly the same as they are in brand name ones. They have to be. The main difference is they way they were manufactured. You need to find out what those differences are with the drugs you're considering buying. Generic drugs are less expensive than name brands because generic manufacturers charge only what it costs to make the drug–nothing more, usually. Name brand manufacturers look at what the market price is of that drug, want to make a profit, and usually do.
However, not all drugs are available in generic form. This is common in new drugs. One of the other reasons the prices are higher on name brands is that these companies invest a lot of time and money in developing new drugs. They are more likely to develop ground-breaking treatments for tough ailments. Generic drug manufacturers bypass that step. They won't do any research, but use the FDA approved formula for a given drug. They wait until all the research is done, then make the drug, and save money in the process. So, if your particular drug isn't available in generic form, it's probably because the drug is too new for the generic manufacturer to have had a chance to create its version of the medicine.