What is the Difference?
Health Canada reviews and approves all drugs (brand-name and generic) before they can be sold in Canada.
Health Canada mandates that a generic drug is designed to work the same way in the body as the original brand-name drug.
Further, Health Canada requires that both brandname and generic drug companies follow the same rules for the manufacturing process and for ensuring the quality of their ingredients.
Health Canada also mandates that generic drugs have the same active ingredient (the chemical that makes the drug work) and that they work the same way in the body as the brand-name drug. Generic drugs must also have the same amount of active ingredient in the prescription.
Health Canada even regulates the non-medicinal ingredients, such as fillers and preservatives, for both brand-name and generic drugs and they are subject to the same approval process.
When a generic drug is approved by Health Canada that means the medicine is as safe and as effective as the original brand-name drug and they will work the same way.
1 Million Everyday – Everyday in Canada, approximately one-million prescriptions are filled using generic drugs.2/3 – Two thirds of all prescriptions in Canada are filled with generic drugs.
The only difference is price
The only difference between a generic and a brand-name drug is the price. Generic drugs are used to fill more than 66% of all prescriptions in Canada, but they account for only 23.5% of the $22.2-billion dollars Canadians spend annually on prescription drugs.
Why should I care about cost? I’m covered by my drug plan.
It is important to remember that you and your employer pay for the cost of your prescription drug benefits. Your employer is not required to offer you a health benefit plan. They do so in order to attract and retain the best employees and to keep you and your family healthy and at work. Rising drug costs are putting pressure on all employers’ ability to continue to offer these important drug benefit programs.
Generic drugs cost much less than brand-name drugs and will lead to an affordable and sustainable drug plan for you and your family. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a generic equivalent available for your prescription needs.
What are generic drugs?
A generic drug is a chemically equivalent, lower-cost version of a brand-name drug, costing 30-80% less! A brand-name drug and its generic version must have the same active ingredient, dosage, safety, strength, usage directions, quality, performance and intended use.
Are generic drugs as safe as brand-name drugs?
Yes. Generic and brand-name drugs must meet the exact same standards for effectiveness, safety and quality.
Are generic drugs as strong as brand-name drugs?
Yes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires generic drugs to have the same quality, strength, purity and stability as their brand-name versions. Generic drugs are thoroughly tested to make sure their performance and ingredients meet the FDA’s standards for equivalency.
Do generics take longer to work?
No. Generic drugs work in your body in the same way and in the same amount of time as brand-name drugs
Are brand-name drugs manufactured in better facilities than generic drugs?
No. Both brand-name and generic drug facilities must meet the same standards; the FDA won’t permit drugs to be made in substandard facilities. The FDA conducts about 3,500 inspections a year to ensure standards are met. In fact, brand-name firms are linked to an estimated 50% of generic drug production. They frequently make generic copies of their own or other brand-name drugs, then sell them with a generic name.
What is the price difference between generic and brand-name drugs?
In 2008, the average price of a brand-name drug was $137.90, while the average generic prescription cost $35.22, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. In addition to the savings on the price difference, there is also a savings on your copayment for using a generic drug over a brand-name drug.
If generic drugs are just as good as brand-name drugs, why do generics cost less?
When a company develops a new drug and submits it for FDA approval, a 20-year patent is issued, preventing other companies from selling the drug during the life of the patent. As a drug patent nears expiration, any drug manufacturer can apply to the FDA to sell its generic version. Because these manufacturers didn’t have the same development costs (such as years of expensive research), they can sell the drug at a discount. Once generics are allowed, the competition keeps the price down. Today, almost half of all prescriptions are filled with generics.
Why do some generic drugs look different from their brand-name versions?
All drugs have inactive ingredients such as dyes, fillers and preservatives. These ingredients often determine the size, shape and color of the drug. Trademark laws do not allow a generic drug to look exactly like its brand-name version. A generic drug must duplicate the active ingredient and it must be equally effective, but the color, shape, and other inactive ingredients may be different.
How do I get generic drugs?
Talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Explain that you want the most effective drug at the best price. Ask your doctor to write prescriptions for generic drugs whenever possible.
What’s the bottom line on generics?
You can use generics with confidence. Although they may look different from their brand-name versions, generics are safe and effective. As always, any medication changes must be discussed with your physician and pharmacist.
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