Generic Drugs: What Do You Need to Know? - Insurance for Seniors, LLC.
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Generic Drugs: What Do You Need to Know?

Generic Drugs: What Do You Need to Know?

Generic Drugs: What Do You Need to Know?

Generic Drugs: What Do You Need to Know?

Are generic drugs as good as name-brand versions? What exactly are generic drugs, anyway? Get the complete guide to generic medications here.

Keyword(s): generic drugs


Brand-name medications can be expensive. In some cases, you may be paying almost twice as much for a medication than you need just so your bottle can have a name on it you recognize.

Generic drugs have a lot to offer but many people worry they won’t work the way they’re supposed to. That’s why today we’re here to discuss everything you’d want to know about generic options so we can help alleviate your concerns.

The Complicated World of Medicine Names

There is plenty of confusion and controversy around the pharmaceutical world around how medicines are researched, manufactured, and distributed. It can also be hard for the average person to fully wrap their head around, with many terms that may be unfamiliar, business practices that seem odd and arcane, and more.

To make a complicated, nuanced picture a bit easier to understand, we will, for now, note that medicines often have two names; one you’re familiar with (the brand-name drug) and then one you may not be (the generic drug).

Take, for example, amphetamine/dextroamphetamine. This is the generic name of a drug you’ve probably heard of: Adderall.

What happens is a company puts a great deal of time and energy into researching and developing a drug. Once it’s ready to go to market, they give it a punchy name (like Adderall) which makes it easier to market.

Are Generic Drugs Different?

One might ask, with the above in mind, if the brand-name drug Adderall and the generic amphetamine/dextroamphetamine are different in any meaningful way.

The answer is not really. The active ingredients, which is to say the ingredients actually meant to have an effect on the user, should be identical. As long as your drugs are coming from legitimate manufacturers, there shouldn’t be major concerns.

While there is one study that suggests there might be a minor concern that different inactive ingredients may cause a slight difference in health risk, the majority of studies find little to no difference between generic options and brand-name ones. It’s rare that a generic drug cannot be considered a safe, equal substitute for a brand-name option.

It’s worth noting that “generic” does not mean “bad.” In fact, the FDA holds generic medication to high standards meant to protect the health of consumers. Companies are expected to prove their generic option functions as effectively as the original brand-name drug.

If Generic Drugs Work, Why Are They So Cheap?

The next logical question to ask once we realize a generic drug is as effective as its brand-name counterpart is to ask why it is cheaper. After all, why would two products that work identically be priced differently?

First, it needs to be acknowledged that the “pioneer” company that develops a drug has to pay much more than those that sell the generic option later. Developing, testing, and marketing a drug all take what can be huge sums of money.

Once the company does this, doctors and patients can then access the drug. They start to learn about it and how well it works. This means that once other companies are allowed to sell a generic option, those companies have much less work (and therefore less they need to spend) to convince people the drug is safe and effective.

This is a big reason brand-name drugs exist. A company doesn’t market “amphetamine/dextroamphetamine,” it markets “Adderall.” The name is easier to remember, easier to sell, and marketing materials that convince you “Adderall” is a good drug don’t necessarily convince you anything about “amphetamine/dextroamphetamine.” This is all despite the drugs working exactly the same.

For better or worse, if a company convinces many patients and doctors a brand-name drug is good without raising much awareness for the generic option, they can then charge more. People want the drug they saw on TV; they might not care (or even know) alternatives exist. As demand for a specific version of a drug rises, the price for it can too.

Does Insurance Cover Generic Drugs?

If you want to save on drug costs, it can often be a good idea to ask your doctor about generic alternatives. (You may also want to ask your pharmacist, as not all doctors are aware of available alternatives.)

As for whether insurance covers generic drugs, the answer is that it often will. In fact, sometimes your insurance may only cover a generic option for a drug.

There are a couple of reasons for this variation. As a rule, your insurance company wants to pay as little as possible, without opening itself up to liability. If it is believed a generic, cheaper drug is as effective as the brand-name drug you were prescribed, they’re often willing to accommodate.

The problem is that some insurance companies can strike deals with pharmaceutical companies, which may mean options you think would be more expensive may not be. If your insurer has a special deal regarding a name brand, they may want those they insure to lean towards that option over a generic one.

If you feel you’re paying too much for a drug, talk to your doctor. They can often help you find alternatives that may allow you to save more. Sometimes they can even get exceptions made for you so that your insurer will cover an alternative option that they don’t otherwise cover.

Need Help Getting Insured? We’d Love to Help!

If you’re uninsured, or just not happy with your insurance, consider contacting us at Insurance for Seniors, LLC. We are a full-service insurance agency specializing in helping seniors not just pay for their brand-name and generic drugs, but life expenses, health expenses, auto expenses, and more.

If you’re a senior with insurance needs, we can help. You deserve to live with the peace of mind that surprise expenses won’t get the better of you!