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Generic drug options

Stretch your dollars by switching to generic drugs

Generic drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe and effective and are virtually the same as their brand-name counterparts:

  • Same active ingredient
  • Same dose
  • Same form

Generic drugs can help you get the most out of your health care budget

That's why we encourage you and your doctor to consider generic medications whenever available. As an incentive, some plans have a lower copay for generic drugs.

Make the switch
Ask your doctor if there's a generic equivalent to the brand-name drug you are taking. And be sure to ask about generics whenever you are prescribed a new medication.

Sometimes a generic version is not yet available for certain brand-name medications. If your doctor writes "dispense as written" on your prescription, then your pharmacist must give you the exact drug as stated. But if your doctor does not make that note, your pharmacist may be able to automatically switch you to a generic counterpart as soon as one becomes available.

Find a generic match
Once a patent for a brand-name drug expires, other companies can ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for permission to sell their own versions of the drug. Visit the FDA website for the latest list of FDA-approved generic drugs

Generic drug FAQs

Q: What are generic drugs?
A: Generic drugs are identical, or "bioequivalent" to brand-name drugs - in dosage, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. Although generic drugs are chemically the same as their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantial discounts from the branded price.

Q: What are the differences between generic and brand-name drugs?
A: There are very few distinctions, other than name and price. Generic drugs are often called by their chemical names.

Q: If brand-name drugs and generic drugs have the same active ingredients, why do they look different?
A: In the United States, trademark laws don't allow generic drugs to look exactly like brand-name drugs. But they must duplicate the active ingredients.

Q: Are generic drugs as safe as brand-name drugs?
A: Yes. The FDA requires that all drugs be safe and effective. Since generics use the same active ingredients and are shown to work the same way in the body, they have the same benefits and risks as their brand-name counterparts.

Q: Are generic drugs as strong as brand-name drugs?
A: Yes. The FDA requires generic drugs to have the same strength, quality, purity and stability as brand-name drugs.

Q: Why are generic drugs less expensive?
A: Generics cost less because generic manufacturers don't have the high marketing and upfront investment costs that developers of new drugs have. Also, competition between drug manufacturers helps keep the prices lower.

Q: Does every brand-name drug have a generic equivalent?
A: No. Only about half of the brand-name drugs on the market today have a generic alternative. Some drugs are protected by patents and are supplied by only one company.


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