General Question

jcs007's avatar

If a generic drug has the same active ingredient as a name-brand one, why should I pay more for the name-brand one?

Asked by jcs007 (1770points) May 19th, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

30 Answers

Magnus's avatar

The quality of the ingredient might be different, it might also be from a different place. It is also easier for you to claim liability of a big corporation.

edmartin101's avatar

One of the reasons that comes to mind is that people tend to trust brand names more than non-brand names. I just look at the active ingredients and if they are the same I would choose the non-brand one. As long as the active ingredients are the same with the same potency, I would conclude they are both just as good.

kevbo's avatar

I have to take a name brand over a generic. I’ve neem told that the absorption rates are different, and that they’d have to re-titrate my dose. Not sure if it’s BS, but more than one doc has told me this.

psyla's avatar

There is no difference between the name brand & the generic, other than the price. Why waste money? Buy the generic if it’s available. Drug companies get a patent that only lasts so many years before a generic is allowed to compete with it. During this time, drug companies elevate the price to get compensated for the expense of FDA approval and testing of the safety and effectiveness of the drug. Once the drug is cleared as safe & that it actually works, the price has to be inflated to recoup the expense of research & clinical trials. IF the drug can only be obtained by prescription, the price will usually be higher. If you don’t have to take medicine, don’t. We eat enough unnnatural ingredients in the common food supply. The liver & kidneys take a beating filtering out all these man-made chemicals that we consume daily.

shilolo's avatar

@Psyla. Great answer…until the end.Saying “if you don’t have to take medicine, don’t” is trite. Adding “the liver and kidneys take a beating…from chemicals” is wrong. Of the major causes of liver cirrhosis, the top three are alcohol (a voluntary “chemical), hepatitis B (a virus) and hepatitis C (another virus). Aflatoxin (a “natural” product of the fungus aspergillus) that contaminates grain also causes cirrhosis and liver cancer.

psyla's avatar

I cannot promote nor overlook the tendency of people with chronic medical conditions to be unnecessarily dependent on multiple medications. shilolo, if you’re a Pharmacist or work for a drug company, just say so. It would be immoral to promote the use of unnecessary medication, while simply commenting on how drug companies justify high prices of medication. Human bodies were not designed to ingest man-made chemicals. Doing so, whether it be by unnecessary overuse of medication or by a diet high in man-made food additives causes some amount of damage to the body, with the cumulative effect being disease and shortened lifespan.

nikipedia's avatar

psyla, it’s immoral to suggest that people who take medication don’t need it. Please read this:

Am happy to discuss afterward.

jcs007: Everything I’ve read on the subject suggests any difference in efficacy is due to a placebo effect. Can find you some sources if you’re interested.

shilolo's avatar

Psyla, I’m a doctor not a pharmacist, so feel free to lump me in with the drug pushers. Companies justify the high cost of medicines because for every one drug that makes it to market, hundreds fail along the way. So, if a company invests 100 million dollars (which is a small number) in developing a drug, and it fails in Phase III trials, then it eats the cost. In order to recoup the costs of all the failed drugs (billions of dollars for an average big pharmaceutical company), successful drugs have to be priced for profit.

As far as your statement, “whether it be by unnecessary overuse of medication or by a diet high in man-made food additives causes some amount of damage to the body, with the cumulative effect being disease and shortened lifespan,” I refer you to the data showing that human lifespan has doubled in the past 150 years (from ~40 years to ~80 years), owing primarily to cleaner water, healthier food, better nutrition, vaccines and antibiotics.

nighttripper's avatar

I always would go with the generic the only difference really is that the brand names boast better quality control

psyla's avatar

My intention was not to recommend that everyone boycott medication! If someone needs medicine to stay healthy, by all means take it! The human lifespan has certainly been extended by cleaner living conditions and the use of antibiotics. But wouldn’t you agree that the massive increase in diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure, and heart attacks in Western culture is at least partly due to our diet of man-made chemicals wether it be in food or medicine? Other cultures that don’t ingest chemicals do not have such a massive die-off as we do from these killer diseases.

psyla's avatar

I’m by no means an organic vegetarian naturalist. I’m out there eating acetaminophen and flouride with the rest of you. I’m just saying that we all need to be at least partly aware that our bodies evolved to have green vegetables and not acetaminophen in our intestines.

psyla's avatar

nikipedia, I feel alot better after I consume man-made chemicals. I didn’t eat any acetaminophen today, but I did drink 2 Monster Energy Drinks.

shilolo's avatar

Psyla. Your point about the Western diet is well taken. That said, it is a privilege of modern living to live long enough to die from a heart attack, stroke, cancer, etc. Before the advent of modern medicine and public health, if you were unfortunate enough to catch pneumonia, you died (for the most part). Tuberculosis…same. Bubonic plague…same. Smallpox…same. Etc. etc.

The human body is a complex machine, and just like any complex machine, things break. When you imagine how many “moving parts” there are in the body, starting at the macromolecular level (like the heart beating), to the cellular level (like the movement of white blood cells into infected tissues), to the molecular level (like the release of neurotransmitters) to the atomic level (like the interaction of the free radical gas nitric oxide (NO) with iron containing proteins), it is a miracle that things don’t break sooner.

So, I would say the “massive increase” in those diseases is simply a reflection of the fact that people are living longer in Western cultures, due to better health and (overall) better nutrition. When you compare the average life expectancy in Europe and the US versus (say) Africa, the difference is staggering. Africans die young from infectious diseases (HIV, TB, malaria, diarrhea) while Westerners reach old age only to die from heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

edmartin101's avatar

@shilolo How would life expectancy and health overall compare in Asian countries as opposed to western counterparts?

psyla's avatar

As an aside, did you know that, in Nigeria in Western Africa, a person can be arrested and imprisoned for being accused of placing a curse on someone, if the person dies soon after the 2 of them had an arguement? A friend who immigrated from Nigeria told me this yesterday.

psyla's avatar

Are they blaming their poor health on superstition?

shilolo's avatar

Depends on what you mean by “Asian”? Most “Asian” countries would still be considered “developing world” except for Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong (although the later two are tiny). Check for yourself here. For the most part, Western countries hover around 80, while the poorer Asian countries, China, Thailand, North Korea, the Philippenes are around 70.

Its really disheartening to look at all the African countries on the bottom of the list. Life expectancies reminiscent of the 1800s. Brings tears to my eyes.

psyla's avatar

Excellent responses, shilolo. Your point is well-taken, perhaps we are living longer due to our diet of man-made chemicals. Pass me my Tylenol and I’ll wash it down with another Monster. I don’t feel so cynical anymore. I’m going to McDonalds for a Clinton Burger.

edmartin101's avatar

I would prefer to gallop less chemicals as possible. In Asian countries I find out that food contains less additives and I tend to have less illnesses. I have been living in Vietnam for four years and hardly at all I’ve gotten the flu, coughing, headaches, nausea, etc. I haven’t been eating at expensive restaurants, I mostly eat at home. I travel quite a bit among all throughout Asia. The statistics don’t always match up what the experts on demographics are writing, cos I find that people here live longer with less illnesses than in the USA. This is just my personal experience.

psyla's avatar

MSG, a well known nerve toxin, was discovered during World War 2 when an American killed a Japanese & stole his food. The seaweed made the Japanese rations taste so much better. MSG was then created from the seaweed & we’re probably all a little more stupid for it.

edmartin101's avatar

MSG is everywhere in different shapes and forms, now not only used in restaurants. I am so careful not to swallow it in food, so I never eat out. Even in California at Chinese, Thai, Japanese restaurants they use MSG a lot, they won’t tell you. Their food taste so good though

psyla's avatar

I know I’ve sure gotten alot more stupid over the years by all this MSG I eat! Ask anybody in Fluther. I can barely stay on topic! Moderators hound me all the time about my stupidity.

edmartin101's avatar

@psyla your biggest enemy is between your ears!!

psyla's avatar

I blame it on the MSG and all these chemicals in my food that I eat every day.

edmartin101's avatar

you can choose what to eat and what not to, besides you can also take antioxidants, which will wash away all the free radicals that cause damage to your body. Take a look at this


I have had two bad side-effects from generic drugs.
They may work for most people, but I have a low immune
system which does not handle the additives in the generics.
All generics should list what they add to the medication.

Response moderated
forever051509's avatar

everyone normally likes the name brand over the generic even tho they have the same ingredients. generic stuff is normally from a different company. but i think you should have an option when u buy a product , of wether u want generic or brand name

GracieT's avatar

I would LOVE to be able to take the generic for my seizure meds. If I could I could save over $2500 per year. In anti-convulsants the active ingredients are the same, but the fillers, the added parts that make up the actual pills can be different. In most seizure meds the differences are enough to cause seizures. My Neurologist instructed me to take name only. The insurance company said “but look! The medicine is the same.”. Now who would you believe? In most cases the generic is exactly the same. But I would ask my doctor. If you have a good relationship with and can trust your doctor ask them what they think. In most cases generic is just fine, the actual medicine is the same. Why pay more if you don’t have to? But make sure you ask about it.

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