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Generic Drug FAQs

A generic drug is the same as a brand name drug in:

  • Dosage, strength, safety, quality
  • The way it works, and
  • The way it is taken

For more information, download our Generic vs Brand-Name Drugs Information (PDF) flyer.

A generic equivalent is a drug that contains the same active ingredient as the brand name drug. For example, lisinopril is the generic equivalent of brand name drugs, Zestril® and Prinivil®.

A generic alternative is a generic drug that works in the same way as a brand name drug and treats the same condition. The drug lisinopril, for example, is a generic alternative to the brand name drug, Altace®. Both drugs lower blood pressure, but they do not contain the same exact active ingredients. Generic alternatives are equal to the brand name drug in safety and how well they work.

Yes. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all drugs are safe and effective. Generic equivalent drugs use the same active ingredients as brand name drugs and work the same way.

Yes. Unless told not to do so, network pharmacies may give you a generic drug instead of a brand name drug.

Yes. FDA requires generic drugs to be equal to brand name drugs in quality and strength.

No. Generic drugs work in the same way as brand name drugs.

Yes. Generic drugs will act the same way as brand name drugs. Be sure to tell your doctor about all of the drugs you take.

No. The FDA says that all factories must meet the same high standards.

No. New brand name drugs have a patent when they are first made. The patent does not allow another drug company to make and sell the drug. Most drug patents last for several years. When the patent expires, other drug companies can start selling the generic version of the drug.

Making a new drug costs a lot. Since generic drug companies do not create a drug from scratch, the costs are less. Generic drug companies must prove that their drug acts in the same way as the brand name drug. The FDA approves all generic drugs before they are released to the public.

Generic drugs are proven to be safe and work well. By choosing generic drugs, you can also save money in most cases.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to learn more about generic drugs.