Generic drug safety

Q: I’ve always thought that generic and brand-name drugs were identical. But in recent years I’ve had tow doctors and a pharmacist say that there are variations in quality when you are dealing with generic prescriptions, and they do not recommend their use. What’s your take?

A: Generic medications are as pure, potent, and safe as branded drugs. But you’re not alone when it comes to worrying about generic drug safety. Our own surveys in 2009 and 2010 found that more than 40 percent of people had concerns about generics, fearing they weren’t as safe or effective as brand-name medications, had different side effects, or came under different federal standards. However, the Food and Drug Administration regulates generic drugs just as it does brand-name drugs. All generics, by law, must have exactly the same active chemicals as the brand-name drugs they copy and must work in the same way. Generics look different, with different shapes and colors, and may even taste different, but that does not affect how well the drugs work. Generics are up to 80 percent cheaper because many competing companies can make them, instead of just one company. Ask your doctor which is best for you.

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