The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is approving more generic medications every day. In 2016 alone, FDA approved more than 800 generic drug applications. Many of these approvals were for the first generic version of a brand-name drug.
This is great news for patients. As generic medication options increase for a specific brand-name drug, costs can go down an estimated 80% to 85% less than a brand-name medication. This greater affordability can help patients stick to their treatment for the prescribed time. Simply put, when you prescribe generics, medication adherence—and health care—can improve.
For some patients, however, the lower costs have led to the misperception that generic medications cost less because they have lower quality, safety or effectiveness. Patients may not understand that the costs of medications are determined by drug companies, the market and competition and do not reflect a reduction in FDA standards. These patients may be unaware that for a generic medication to receive FDA approval it must demonstrate that it works the same in the body as the brand-name drug. Talking with patients about generic medications can allay their concerns about the safety and effectiveness of their drugs and provide them with cost savings, as well.
Engaging patients on the topic of generic medications will also help you determine if it is the drug itself, the version of the drug, your patient’s adherence to the treatment protocol or some other factor that may be causing issues with the performance of their medication.
Good communication about prescription medication options at the hospital, in the doctor’s office, and at the pharmacy can help patients use generics with confidence and address any concerns they have up front.
To help support your conversations with patients, FDA has both web and print resources that explain the differences between brand-name and generic drugs, the availability and cost of generics, the FDA review process, and much more.
Please visit the FDA website for resources for patients and start this important conversation with patients.