Generic vs Brand Name Drugs: Which is Better?

In the U.S., the chance of a new drug making it to market is 1 in 5,000 and the process takes an average of 12 years.

Prescription drugs are the most regulated and monitored substances in the United States. Many people think when it comes to generic vs brand, brand-name must be superior. Generic doesn’t mean it’s a knock-off.

If you can’t decide which one to buy, here is some information about each one and the differences between them.


Brand-name medication is developed by a company through large amounts of work and research to make sure it’s effective and safe to use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that every compound of a drug go through pre-clinical studies to learn what the body will do with these compounds before testing in humans. There can be thousands of compounds in the development of a medication that needs testing.

The FDA reviews applications before allowing trials to proceed. Clinical trials usually have three phases:

  1. Document all side effects
  2. Tested to establish safety, efficacy, and the optimal dosage
  3.  Same as phase two but on a much larger scale

Each phase needs thousands of human volunteers. After the completion of all trials, the FDA needs to approve the drug again before its release onto the market. Even after the drug is released onto the market, it’s continually monitored for long-term effects.

Brand drugs are patent-protected to protect the large investment put into its development. While the drug is under the protection of the patent, the company selling the drug can set the price to cover the cost of all the effort that went into production and to make a profit as well.


Generic is defined as a product that has no brand-name or registered trademark.

Once a drug patent has expired, other manufacturers can sell the generic versions of the medication. These companies can sell the generic drug at a much cheaper price because they haven’t invested nearly as much as the brand manufacturer.

Generic VS Brand: What’s the Difference?

The FDA closely monitors and controls drugs sold in stores and pharmacies across the U.S. To buy brand or generic drugs online on sites like, you must have a valid prescription.

Generic and brand must work the same way and have the same active ingredients.

Under FDA regulation, generic brands must have the same dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance, and intended use as the brand-name. Generic manufacturing, packaging, and testing sites must also pass the same quality of standards.

Here are some of the differences:


The first noticeable difference is the name. Brand-names are the name of the manufacturing company while generic is based on the formula and chemical compounds.


The appearance will differ between generic and brand due to U.S. trademark laws. They may not share the same color, taste, shape, inactive ingredients, and packaging.

Which Should I Buy?

Between generic vs brand, both must meet the same standards as their brand-name and as long as they are available on the market, they are being monitored. Just because they’re cheaper, doesn’t mean there’s a difference in quality.

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