Generic Medications

I explain to patients that the “generic” name might be called the “scientific” name of a drug.ย  It’s picked by a small group run by the American Medical Association, that includes a doctor, pharmacist, Federal Drug Administration (FDA) member, & others.ย  They choose endings that reflect other similar drugs in the same class (for example, all the ones ending “-azole” help stomach problems; all the “-april” endings are ACE-Inhibitors for hypertension or heart failure; etc.).

This is different from the brand name, chosen by the drug manufacturer itself.ย  It has to be approved by the FDA, and cannot have any actual literal meaning.ย  Drug companies look for names that will be easy to remember, maybe even catchy. Some may even pay doctors lots of money to sit around in focus groups and come up with an ideal choice.

When a drug is invented, the drug company has patent rights for around 17 years.  Nobody else can make or sell the drug.  Afterwards, generic drug manufacturers are allowed to do so, & the price becomes a lot cheaper since competition is at play.

Generic drugs and brand name drugs are the same medicines.ย  They work the same.ย  By law, even if the prescription uses the brand name, the pharmacy has to substituteย  the generic drug instead.ย  A prescriber may write, “Fill As Directed,” to require the brand-name original version.ย  But my colleagues and I never do that because there’s no logical reason to.ย  If a patient insists the brand name “works better,” that’s simply a placebo effect, and no reason to make Medicaid or insurances pay a lot more money.

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