Are generic prescription drugs equal to brand name drugs?
Yes generic prescription drugs are equal to brand. Brand is patented by a company first.Their patent is good from 10-15 years. Once the patent runs out other companies make the same drug with same ingredients. It is copied and made cheaper. They are the same ingrediants and do the same job.
Although active ingredients are the same in both brand and generic, the binders or fillers as well as the dyes may differ. This is why some people may have a sensitivity to one and not the other.
It is also important to note that the amount of drug which makes it into the bloodstream (bioavailability) can vary significantly for generic drugs; the bioavailability of generics is required to be within 20% of the branded drug, meaning it can be 20% lower to 20% higher. This can make a significant difference for drugs which are very dose-dependent. Also the amount of active ingredient in the generic only needs to be within 7% of the branded drug. All in all the generic might end up quite a bit less or more potent than the branded drug.
I understand that some companies who patent brand will also later make the generic available as well. Brands and generic will have the same active ingredients however the binding ingredients may differ.
It is good to keep in mind that although the ingredients and stated potencies may be the same for both brand and generic meds, other characteristics may cause them to differ in the body. The best example involves sustained-release products. Because different manufacturers may use different technologies to delay the absorption of the med, the actual levels in the body may vary from one company to another. Some medications with a narrow margin of safety may also have slightly different actions in the body. For this reason, some states have enacted "negative formularies" where certain drug clases cannot be interchanged. These include sustained-release products, hormonal meds, thyroid meds, and inhalers.
Nearly all generic drugs are considered equivalent or equal to their brand name equivalent, meaning they achieve the same blood levels of the active ingredient(s) in your body and therefore the same therapeutic effect.
Older doctors and patients may not believe this, as 50 years ago there were no stringent tests or regulations in place to guarantee the equivalence and safety of brand and generic drugs. The word "generic" simply means "no longer covered by patent", meaning that any company may make the drug as long as it passes the same stringent manufacturing tests and FDA equivalence tests. Generic drugs are NOT "weaker" copycats of the original.
Approximately 50% or more of generic drugs are manufactured by "brand name" drug companies in the same types of facilities as the original brand name product. Many brand name drug companies own or operate their own "generic" drug companies, in order to maximize profits.
Beware of any drug imported into the USA, as other countries do not necessarily have the same manufacturing standards, and fake drugs do exist and have been purchased unknowingly over the Internet. Brand and generic names may differ in other countries, so do your research carefully. Most pharmacists laugh (inside) at customers who insist on spending more money on expensive brand name drugs. However, there are probably rare customers (less than 2%) who may get slightly different effects from the products of different manufacturers, due to the presence of inactive ingredients (binders, dyes, fillers, etc.) and how their digestive system works.
It is also wise to stick with a single manufacturer (either the original manufacturer or a single generic manufacturer) for certain "narrow therapeutic index" drugs, where even slight variances in blood levels may be critically important. These drugs include Coumadin (warfarin), Lanoxin (digoxin), and others. If you constantly switch brands or generics while taking such drugs, it is wise to have a doctor check your blood levels periodically, as FDA testing (even for brand name) allow for a small percentage variation in achieved blood levels (approximately 5 to 10%) of a drug.