Ask the doctor: Generic vs. brand-name drugs: Any difference?

Q. Some doctors strongly advise against the use of generic drugs with the argument that manufacturing processes are better controlled in branded medicines. What is your view?

A. Over the past several years, the FDA has found manufacturing problems at some of the factories that make generic medicines. The agency has also come under some criticism for not keeping up with inspections of the growing number of factories overseas that make generic drugs for the American market. We need a strong FDA to ensure that drugs are safe. But the problems are actually pretty rare, and there are, of course, lapses and quality-control issues at factories that make brand-name drugs, too. Odds are that there will be more problems identified with generics than with brand-name drugs, simply because there are so many more generic drugs manufactured.

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