The Difference Between Generic and Branded Drugs

There are differences between generic and branded medications, but these differences are a good thing. Learn how you…

There are differences between generic and branded medications, but these differences are a good thing. Learn how you can save money today.

When the pharmacist asks you, “Is generic okay?” when you’re standing at the counter to pick up your prescriptions, you may find yourself wondering, “I’m not sure, is it?” What’s the real difference between generic and branded drugs? The most important thing to know is that while there are slight differences, generic drugs work exactly the same as brand name medications.

What Are the Differences with Generic Medication?

There are minor differences with generic medication compared to branded drugs, but they do not change how the medicine will work in your body. Here are some key differences to be aware of.


What you may notice right away is that generic medication looks different than its brand name counterpart. There are typically several manufacturers of the same generic medicines, and each of those may look different from one another as well. Usually, your pharmacist will go over this with you at pick-up. Another way to make sure your generic medication is correct if you’re concerned is to read the label on the prescription bag or bottle. It will tell you what the medication you’ve received should look like.


Generic medication almost always costs less the brand name drugs. The driving reason behind this factor is that the manufacturers of generic medications are not the companies who invented or developed the drug. Brand name medications cost more because they have to cover the cost that the inventors and developers put into making the product. This can include trials and tests, advertising, patent applications, and more. Generic manufacturers can keep costs down because they don’t have to compensate for any of these expenses.

Health Insurance Plans

Most health insurance plans have tiered plans for prescription coverage. This means that they charge one price for generic medications, a higher price for brand name drugs, and then an even higher price for off-label use or non-formulary medications. Some insurance plans may mandate that you only receive generic drugs unless explicitly noted by a doctor.

Inert Ingredients

Inert ingredients are additional elements in a pill or medication that are not considered active. This can include bonding ingredients, preservatives, or artificial coloring and dyes. While these ingredients do differ from the brand name medication, they do not change the functionality or efficiency of a generic medication. 

What Are the Similarities Between Generic and Branded Drugs?

While there are differences between generic and brand name medications, there are similarities, too. The similarities are the most crucial element when comparing the two. While the medications differ in some ways, the most important things are the same.

Active Ingredients and Dose

The most important thing to remember when comparing generic medications to branded drugs is that they contain the same active ingredient and the same dose based on your prescription. This means that generic medications are the same strength and will function the same way in your body. You are not sacrificing quality or potency by opting to purchase generic medications versus brand name drugs.

Generic Medications Are Held to the Same FDA Standards

Brand name drugs are put through rigorous testing by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure their safety, effectiveness, and to determine any potential side effects. Generic medications must go through the same process. Generic medicines are held to the same high standards of the FDA that branded drugs are. You do not have to worry about getting a medication that is not as “safe.”

The Administration Instructions Will Remain the Same

If you are written a prescription that notes a pill should be taken twice daily, that instruction will remain the same whether you receive a generic or brand name drug. You won’t be left guessing how to take or administer the medication, and your routine will not be disrupted. Since generic drugs function the same way as brand names, the instructions will remain the same.

The Bottom Line: Generic vs. Brand Name Medication

When it comes down to it, there are many advantages to purchasing generic drugs in comparison to brand name medications. Generic drugs offer all the same benefits of brand name medications but often come at a lower price point.

If you are looking for lower prices, more convenience, and to find a generic match to your current brand name medications, search the database today. After all, who doesn’t want lower medical costs?

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