So the question now is, if your doctor or pharmacist offers you a generic form of your current medication, should you take it? The short answer in most cases is, yes.
“Brand-name medications are not always better. Many of them are highly expensive,” says Dr. Niteesh K. Choudhry, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center for Healthcare Delivery Sciences at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. As a result of this high cost, some people may skip doses or not take a drug at all because they just can’t afford it. In this way, generics may be a clear winner. In many states pharmacists are required to provide you with the generic version of the medication, unless your doctor specifies otherwise.
It’s estimated that if more prescribers substituted generic for brand-name drugs, drug spending could drop substantially, as much as $5.9 billion by some estimates, says Dr. Choudhry. In addition, there is really no hard proof at this point that generic medications are any less effective or safe than the originals. These drugs are heavily regulated, which can give you some assurances about quality.
While researchers will likely continue to look into the performance of generic versus brand-name drugs, the bulk of research out there shows that taking the no-name brand not only saves you money, but also provides you with a medication that is just as effective as the original.
That said, if you do switch to a generic version of your medication and notice new or worrying symptoms, it’s definitely something to bring up with your doctor.