Harvard Women's Health Watch

Generic drugs versus brand names: Switching could save money

Generic drugs have to go through the same FDA approvals as brand names, so they have the same quality.

Often, the old saying "You get what you pay for" holds true. A Prada handbag is definitely not the same as the $20 knockoff you buy from a street vendor. Value-brand paper towels aren't nearly as absorbent as the name brands.

Following this line of thought, it would be logical to assume that generic drugs are just cheap imitations of brand-name medicines. While it's true that generic drugs are cheaper—costing up to 85% less than their brand-name counterparts—in terms of ingredients, quality, and potency they're virtually the same.

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