Prescription Drugs

Is there any Difference between brand name and generic drugs?


You might have come across the terms "brand name" and "generic drugs" a bit too often, and you might be confused about what they are! A generic name for a drug is actually the "real" name or the chemical name for a drug. On the other hand, a brand name is the name given to a particular drug by the drug company.

For example, technically there is no difference between "Advil" and "ibuprofen." Are you a bit confused? Well, here's the explanation. Advil is a product of Wyeth Consumer Healthcare. It is the brand name that Wyeth Consumer Healthcare has chosen for the generic drug "ibuprofen." Any drug manufacturing company can market the drug "ibuprofen," but only Wyeth has the right to market the drug under the name "Advil."

However, when we say that there is no difference between a brand name and a generic drug we, usually have the basic composition of the drug in mind. There may be a few differences. The "active" ingredients (the basic chemical composition) of a brand name drug and its generic equivalent may be same. However, there can be differences in the color(s) used in the drug, and other similar "inactive" ingredients. It has been observed that drugs that are sold under specific brand names are usually costlier than the ones that are sold under their generic names.

Generally, brand name drugs are found to be costlier than drugs sold under their generic names because the drug companies spend a lot of cash on advertisements. The dollars that are invested for popularizing the drugs are recovered from the consumers.

Does this impact prescription drugs and non–prescription drugs?

Certainly not! Whether you are buying a prescription drug or a non–prescription drug, the terms "brand name drug" and "generic drug" have the same significance.



Does Medicare drug plans cover generic drugs?


Yes, Medicare drug coverage includes brand name drugs as well as generic drugs. However, you have to remember that only pharmacies that are registered with Medicare will be able to offer you Medicare benefits.