Pharmacy Services MEDCO

Generics Can Save You Money

Switching to generics is one of the easiest ways to save money on your prescription drugs.  Today, approximately three-quarters of all prescription drugs have a generic equivalent. Generic equivalent drugs must meet the same FDA standards for safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance, and intended use as their brand-name counterparts.

Frequently Asked Questions about Generics

Do all brand-name drugs have a generic version available?
Not all do, but more than three-quarters of them have a generic version and others will soon be available.

Here are just a few common brand-name drugs that now have generic equivalents:

  • Pravachol® (generic name pravastatin sodium) for high cholesterol
  • Zocor® (generic name simvastatin) for high cholesterol
  • Prozac® (generic name fluoxetine HCl) for depression
  • Zoloft ® (generic name sertraline HCl) for depression
  • Zantac® (generic name ranitidine HCl) for ulcers and heartburn
  • Flonase® (generic name fluticasone propionate) for allergies

What can I do if there is no generic equivalent available?
In cases where a generic equivalent is not available, there may be a generic in the same group of drugs that will work just as well.  These are called generic alternatives.  Ask your doctor if a generic alternative is available in the same drug category as the brand-name drug.

Why are generic drugs less expensive?
When the patent for a brand-name drug expires, other manufacturers can produce the drug, usually at a much lower cost.  This is because generic manufacturers do not have the expensive development or marketing costs originally borne by the brand-name drug manufacturer.  Manufacturers of generics usually do not advertise their drugs which also saves money.

Why do generics have strange names?
Medications can have more than one name.  The generic name describes the chemical, or the drug’s active ingredient.  Some generic names, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are nearly as familiar as their original brand names, Tylenol® and Motrin®.  The brand is the name that a manufacturer uses for marketing and advertising. Well-known brands include Nexium® (esomeprazole magnesium) and Prozac® (fluoxetine HCl).

How do generics differ from their brand equivalent?
Generic drugs may look different from their brand equivalents and have different inactive ingredients such as the fillers and dyes that give a drug its size and color.  Nevertheless, you may be confident that the FDA reviews generic equivalents to ensure they are as safe and effective as the original brand-name drugs.