Showing posts with label Generic Drugs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Generic Drugs. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What You Should Know About Generic Medication

You probably already know that generic prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are often cheaper than the name-brand version. However, you may have questions over what exactly "generic" means, and if the lower price means the medication won't work as well. We’re here to help you learn the facts about generic medicine.
Fact #1: Generic drugs contain the same active ingredients
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a generic medication as “a drug product that is comparable to a brand name/reference listed drug product in dosage form, strength, quality, and performance characteristics, and intended use.” The term generic refers to both over-the-counter and prescription medications that have no brand name or registered trademark. A familiar example of a brand name product is Tylenol®, whose generic term is acetaminophen.

The FDA imposes strict standards for the approval of generic drugs, and follows up on these standards through enforcement. Generic products purchased in the U.S. need to be the “bioequivalent” of a name brand, meaning they must have the same active ingredients as their brand counterpart.
Fact #2: Generic drugs are not available for all brand name products
The generic version of a drug is rarely made available until the original brand name manufacturer’s product goes “off patent,” at which time it is no longer subject to patent protection. It usually takes about 20 years for this to occur. Once the patent has expired, other drug companies can then manufacture and sell the generic version of the medication after the FDA has tested and approved it.

Fact #3: Generic prescriptions are required in some circumstances
Unless your doctor mandates on the prescription that no substitutions are permitted, pharmacists in most states are required to dispense the generic version of a drug. In addition, many insurance plans mandate that, when available, the generic form of a drug must be dispensed. To be certain you’re getting the savings available to you via generic alternatives, ask your pharmacist if substituting a generic form of your brand name prescription product is possible. Your pharmacist is trained to know which generic products are acceptable substitutes for the prescription medicine’s brand name product.
Fact #4: Generic forms sometimes cannot be used
Sometimes, a small variation in the amount of drug in the blood stream can make a big difference in how a medicine works. Consequently, switching from a brand to a generic form of the medicine is sometimes inadvisable. Before asking to be switched to a generic, you should always consult your doctor and pharmacist first.  
Fact #5: Generic drugs save you money
According to an economic analysis by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA), U.S. consumers save an average of $3 billion every week by buying generic alternatives over name-brand medication. The price of generic medications can be up to 90% less than name-brand prescription equivalents, with average savings closer to 80-85%, according to the FDA.

More on generic drugs and saving on prescriptions

For more tips about generic drugs, check out our free Live Healthy, Live Smart® eBook, which we’re offering to celebrate our 10th anniversary of helping individuals, families, and communities save money on their medication. For more facts and data on prescriptions, visit the FDA’s Facts About Generic Drugs and Understanding Generic Drugs fact page. For further information, check out WebMD’s guide to generic drugs.

Want to save even more on your prescriptions? Try using the free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, which is accepted at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide and covers all FDA approved prescription medications. You’ll get an average savings of 42% on medication costs - or sometimes, as high as 75%! Simply print out a card from or download the free FamilyWize app to start saving today.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Drugs & Diabetes: Six Cost-Saving Strategies

According to the CDC, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 600,000 deaths annually. It also creates high health costs for many families, with sources estimating the national cost of diabetes at over $132 billion a year. If you suffer from diabetes, these six tips can help you ease those costs and stay healthy.
Tip #1: Use mail-order services for prescription discounts
Under Obamacare, Medicare now has a National Mail-Order Program, which can save you quite a bit on lancets, test strips, batteries, and other common diabetes supplies. Plus, it’s all delivered straight to your door, which can save you time and gas.
Tip #2: Use Obamacare’s free preventative care options
Most of the plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are required to provide free preventive care services, which would include screening for diabetes if you’re an adult with high blood pressure or if you’re pregnant. Though the coverage rules vary by state, ACA’s free preventive care also includes medical nutrition therapy for those with diabetes.
Tip #3: Use your FSA
If your employer offers benefit plans with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can save substantially – up to 30% – on your out-of-pocket medical expenses.

The way a Flexible Spending Account works is by letting you set aside pre-tax money from your salary to put towards expected medical expenses. By doing this, you effectively reduce your taxable income. You can then use the money you set aside to cover many medical expenses not covered by your health plan, such as copays and over-the-counter medications.
Tip #4: Use a free discount prescription card
You can save an average of 42% on your prescriptions by using the free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or the FamilyWize smartphone app.  To download the app, follow these links to the Apple App StoreGoogle Play, or the Windows Store. Last year, the FamilyWize card saved over $175 million on prescriptions!
Tip #5: Take advantage of other discounts via coupons and rebates
There are many things you can do as part of your regular shopping routine to save money. For example:
  • Watch the weekly ad flyers or coupon books coming to you in the mail from your drug store.
  • Keep an eye on your area drugstores’ websites for digital coupons you can print or save on your phone.
  • Ask if your pharmacy has a loyalty program. A higher volume customer, such as a person with diabetes, can often get frequent discounts on general merchandise or even prescription medications.
Tip #6: Go generic
Buying generic (unbranded) versions of drugs can reduce your cost of diabetes care, sometimes significantly.  Read more on the cost advantages of buying generic drugs at WebMD.

The most important thing: Do not let limited funds keep you from your necessary diabetes drugs.  According to a 2004 University of Michigan study, 11 percent of diabetes patients skip diabetes medication doses because of the high cost. Inevitably (as confirmed by other studies), this worsens blood sugar control. By using the tips provided here, you can help ensure you're leading a savings-smart, healthy life.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, August 20, 2012

Understanding Generic Drugs

Answers to Four Common Questions about Generic Medications

prescriptions drugs
Generic medications save consumers 80% to 85%.
Below are some of the most common questions that people have regarding generic drugs:
  • Do generic drugs really save me money?
  • Are generic drugs a safe substitute for name brand drugs? Are generic medications the same quality?
  • Why is a generic medication sometimes not available for a brand name drug that I need?
  • How do I find or get generic medicines in place of a brand-name drug?
  • What prescription drug insurance issues must I be aware of?
Let’s take a look at these five common questions (or, as the case may be, misunderstandings) about generic drugs so you can be informed when you go to your pharmacist or doctor.

1.  Do generic medications really save me money?

Oh, yes!  The average amount saved by U.S. consumers monthly by purchasing a generic medicine rather than a brand name drug with their prescription is $3 billion every week, according to a September 2011 economic analysis of generic drug use by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA).  That’s $158 billion that Americans save each year with generic drugs!

How much you save personally from switching to generic drugs will depend on how many drugs you use and whether the brand name prescriptions you use are available in generic form.   But the savings can be substantial; Generic medications are up to 90 percent less expensive than their name-brand prescription equivalents, and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) reports that on average, the generic drug will cost you 80-85 percent less than the brand name product.

2. Why is a generic medication sometimes not available for a brand name drug that I need?

Most pharmaceutical companies get a patent for the drugs that they develop.  Until that patent expires, their drug will only be available legally (i.e., without patent infringement) under their own manufacturing: their own brand name.  This is why just half of the brand-name drugs on the market are currently available in generic form.

While this may seem unfair from our perspective as consumers, the cost of research, development, and patent approval are enormous for any new drug entering the U.S. market.  The patent protection allows the drug manufacturer to recoup its investment before any other company can manufacture or distribute the drug as a generic equivalent to the original name-branded drug.

This also explains why a generic drug can be sold for so much less; the manufacturer of the generic drug only pays for the cost of making the drug, not the cost of research and FDA approvals. 

3.  How do I find or get generic medicines in place of a brand-name drug prescriptions?

In most cases, you must simply ask your pharmacist if the drug you’ve been prescribed has a generic equivalent.  If it’s made in generic form, the pharmacy usually carries it or can order it for you.
Some pharmacists will ask if you want the generic drug instead, but this is not always the case.  So, be sure to ask!

4.  What prescription drug insurance issues must I be aware of?

    Almost none.  Most health insurance companies that provide prescription drug insurance benefits cover generic medications at the same rates of out-of-pocket versus covered amounts as they do with name brand prescription.

    Insurance companies benefit from the savings of generic drugs just as much or even more so than we do and often get involved  in advocacy for more generic drug availability, especially now that so much research, data, and evidence support the facts that generic medications are cheaper and as reliable as name brand drugs.
    medicine name brand drugs
    Insurance companies advocate for generic drug availability.

    Summary: Generic Drugs Are Both Safe and Good Economics!

    Most data, not just government sourced, supports the facts; you can safely control health costs for you and your family by using generic drugs to substitute for the name brand drugs prescribed by your doctor.  

    Want to dig deeper?  Check out these resources:
    And while you’re working for ways to trim your prescription costs, make sure you’ve printed out your FREE FamilyWize prescription card.  Show it to your pharmacist to save even more!  Generics are less than name brand drugs and with FamilyWize, you'll save up to 75% on your generic medications!