Brand-name vs. generic drugs – What’s the difference?

Last Modified: 8/06/2021


Medications help us prevent and manage conditions so that we can live our best lives. Oftentimes, your provider will offer a generic alternative to a, perhaps more recognizable, name-brand drug. This can bring up a host of questions. The Parkview Pharmacy team has some answers to the most common concerns.


To be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), generic drugs must be comparable to the name-brand version. They must have the same:

  • Active ingredients
  • Dosage
  • Safety
  • Effectiveness
  • Strength
  • Stability
  • Quality

However, they might look different. The generic pills may be different sizes, shapes or colors. They still work the same way as the brand-name drugs and you should take them the same way.


Generic drugs tend to be cheaper than brand name drugs. This is because generic manufactures do not have to repeat clinical trials to prove safety and effectiveness of the drug, since the brand-name manufacturer has already done this.

Additionally, generic manufacturers do not have to pay for advertising because the brand-name drug is more well known in the market.

FDA approval

All generic drugs are still approved by the FDA. Generic manufacturers submit an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) to the FDA to prove that their drug has the same active ingredients as the brand-name drug.

Generic manufacturers are able to market their drug once it is approved by the FDA and the patent on the brand-name medication has expired. Multiple generic manufacturers can make generic versions of the same drug, which creates competition on the market. This is another reason why generic drugs tend to be cheaper than their brand-name counterparts.

For more information about generic drugs, please visit the FDA’s website. If you have any questions about a new prescription, ask to speak with your local pharmacist.

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