Order Toll Free: 1-888-848-1945. You save an additional 20% by ordering online.

Welcome! Log in:

Forgot password?
Do I need an account to order?
River Pharmacy - Your Neighborhood Drugstore Online

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a generic drug?

Short Answer

A medication with the same active ingredient as another, but without the higher cost from associated research, development and marketing.

Long Answer

When a company first invents a medication, that company is the only one allowed to market that drug for a certain number of years in any given country. This monopoly allows them to charge whatever the market will bear for a medication, regardless of the cost to manufacture. They use the profits to help pay for more research and development, as well as marketing and other associated costs.

In the United States, many drug patents are for about a decade while it is about two decades in Canada. Patent protection varies from country to country.

Once the drug patent runs out in a country, other companies are allowed to make the same drug with their own marketing efforts. These drugs are called generics. The original drug is called a brand name drug. Brand name drugs and their generics are identical in terms of active ingredients.

The generic pills may look different (because they are made by a different company) but inside is exactly the same active ingredient, which works in exactly the same way. The only difference between brand name drugs and generic drugs is that generics are always less expensive.

Some countries have no patent protection, and therefore can allow generic copies of drugs as soon as they are approved by their government agencies. Either way, generic drugs are made in the same quality of facilities as those of brand name drugs, they just don't have the research and development costs to recoup.

Additional Information

A generic drug is identical -- or bioequivalent -- to a brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. Although generic drugs are chemically identical to their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantial discounts from the branded price. According to the Congressional Budget Office, generic drugs save consumers an estimated $8 to $10 billion a year at retail pharmacies. Even more billions are saved when hospitals use generics.
A brand-name company submits information to the FDA on patents it holds on a drug and their expiration dates. Then the agency lists patents on new drugs in the publication Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence, also known as the Orange Book. Patent protection gives brand-name companies, also known as "innovator" companies, the sole right to sell a drug for a certain period of time. This allows them to fairly recoup their investment costs. Patent protection for drugs typically lasts an average of 11 years. A generic drug can only enter the market after the brand-name patent or other marketing exclusivities have expired and FDA approval is granted.
Generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs that have exactly the same dosage, intended use, effects, side effects, route of administration, risks, safety, and strength as the original drug. In other words, their pharmacological effects are exactly the same as those of their brand-name counterparts.
A generic drug is a copy of a brand name product, known as the 'reference product'. Generic drugs contain the same medicinal ingredients as the brand name drug, and are considered bioequivalent to the reference product. There may be many generic versions of the same reference product. Nearly 45% of all prescriptions filled by pharmacies use generic drugs, and some hospitals use generic drugs almost exclusively. Chances are that you have received a generic drug at some time, whether you realize it or not.
Generic products get a bad rap in a lot of industries; they're ridiculed for being no-frills and low-quality. That may be the case in some industries, but there is at least one industry where you can expect your generic product to be equivalent to the brand name, every time: pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, few agencies impose such high standards of quality on generic products the way the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does.