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What’s the difference between generic and brand name drugs?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Our question this week was:

What is the difference between generic and brand name drugs?

Josh – Midland MI


Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. Excellent question. I know this is confusing to some people. A brand name drug is a drug developed, marketed and sold with patent protection. No other company can copy this drug during this time. For example, Pepcid © is a brand name drug. You can now buy its generic equivalent which is Famotidine.

A drug patent lasts 20 years but it is often begun with the drug is still in research and development stages. A drug company may develop a drug, apply for a patent while the drug is still in testing phases years before its release. From the time a drug is on the market until its generic equivalent comes out varies from about seven to twelve years.

A generic drug is a drug that is identified by its chemical name (not its brand name) and distributed without patent protection. A generic drug has the same ingredients as the original drug and is considered equivalent to its brand name counterpart. Generic name drugs are available after the patent protections are off the original drugs. Generic drugs are generally less expensive than the original brand name product however after release of the generic version of the drug, the brand name price generally drops as well.

I hope this answers your question!

Dr. Debra




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