Professional Development for Healthcare Professions Blog

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Brand vs Generic

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 @ 10:38 AM

Med-Line School of Medical TranscriptionThis tip idea came from Brenda Dorsett, CMT, our credentialing instructor. She suggested explaining the difference between a brand and generic. 

Are brand-named drugs and generics the same? The brands suggest no, the discount brands say yes. So what is the difference and why the extreme price range? 

The active ingredient is the same in both. The dose is the same in both. The FDA also states that the generics must meet the same standards of dosage and availability as brand names. Some pharmacologists (researchers of drugs) will disagree. I spoke with one a couple of years ago who felt that there were subtle manufacturing differences, i.e. harder pills not dissolving as easy as others, but the FDA does refute that claim. 

Generics are cheaper because the companies making them are profiting off the trials of the brand name companies. The brand name companies expend a lot of money to develop drugs and only a fraction ever make it to market. When I was doing biomedical research it was interesting to see some of the technology ($$) used to test a lot of chemicals for possible drug applications. If you got lucky, you tested it on some kind of lab animal ($$$), and if that went well you tested it on people. Think lots of $$$$. If you were really lucky, you had a new drug. The process is truly fascinating and, take my word for it, very expensive. Those costs are reflected in the price. This is a main reason why these manufacturers receive an exclusive patent for 20 years. Sometimes these are extended. 

When the patent expires, companies can petition the FDA to allow them to make a generic. Essentially they have a working drug and know how to make it. No drug research, no testing. Just manufacturing. What is really interesting is that often the brand companies are also making generics. 

Hopefully you all know to capitalize brand names and not to capitalize the generics. 

The FDA has a link to let you know which medications recently went generic. You can see it here.

Topics: Transcription Tip