This week I want to tackle the subject of generic vs. name brand medications. There are a number of reasons this topic is important. First of all, medications in general are becoming prohibitively expensive for many patients. Insurance companies are also pressuring patients and physicians to prescribe generics whenever possible to reduce health care costs (not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly a pain in the rump at times).
I receive many questions about generics in the office. People want to know why every medication doesn’t have a generic substitute and if not, how long will it be until one is available. They also want to know if they are safe and effective.
First let me describe what generic and name brand drugs are. Generic drugs are chemical compounds that never received patent protection or the patent on the name brand drug has expired. In contrast, name brand drugs are protected by a patent, meaning no other companies can produce or sell that particular drug.