Choosing Generics

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Additional Resources

For more information about generics, we encourage you to visit the following sites:

The Office of Generic Drugs, part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, is staffed by more than 230 highly skilled scientists, physicians, pharmacists and support staff. The staff is dedicated to reviewing and approving safe, effective, high quality and bioequivalent generic drug products for use by consumers.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association represents the manufacturers and distributors of finished generic pharmaceutical products, manufacturers and distributors of bulk active pharmaceutical chemicals and suppliers of other goods and services to the generic pharmaceutical industry.

act now, start talking

You've learned the key facts about generics and the associated cost savings of generic drugs, now it's time to start talking. When an FDA-approved generic form of a brand medication becomes available, you have a unique opportunity to take action and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about using the brand medication or having it substituted with the generic.

Come prepared.

Take advantage of your doctor's appointments to talk openly about your medication plan and find out if generics are available for you. To get the conversation started, fill out a personal medication tracker with all of the medications you've taken recently or are currently taking and bring it to your next doctor’s appointment.

Show your doctor the list and ask if any of your medications are available in generic form. Having an open conversation with your doctor about your prescription drugs is very important, so use this valuable time with your doctor to discuss all your medications, including generic drug options.

Generic medication substitution

To contain drug costs most U.S. states have adopted laws and/or regulations that encourage the substitution of brand drugs for generics when the FDA has approved a therapeutically equivalent generic version. Several states require the pharmacist to dispense a generic unless the doctor's drug prescription specifically states "dispense as written" or "brand medically necessary," or unless the patient refuses, in which case the patient usually must pay the difference.

To avoid any confusion when you pick up your prescription, take advantage of the opportunity to ask your pharmacist questions about your medications. Here are some questions that will help guide your discussion.

Questions to ask your pharmacist

  1. Is this a generic?
  2. Is there a generic version of my drug available?
  3. Can I substitute my medication with a generic?
  4. How much will I save under my prescription plan if I take the generic?
  5. Does the generic version look different from the brand name drug?

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