More and more people are turning to generic medication, and it’s no wonder: Spending on prescription medications keeps climbing, and generics can save considerable money.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t oversee or set drug prices, but it estimates that when a generic version becomes available, it costs 10 to 15 percent less than the brand name. As more generic medications for the same condition become available, they become even less expensive, says Ethan Stier, acting deputy director, Division of Bioequivalence 2, in the FDA’s Office of Generic Drugs. But the idea of switching to a generic raises a lot of questions: Will it work as well as the brand name? Is it as safe? What about side effects? And how much money will it really save?
Alan Mendelowitz, MD, a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York, frequently prescribes generic medication to save his patients money, but he says he makes the decision on a case-by-case basis. It depends on the drug, he says, and it depends on the patient.