A generic drug is a version of a brand-name drug. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), compared to the brand drug, a generic:
- is chemically the same
- works the same in the body
- is just as safe and effective
- often costs much less
There are two forms of generic substitution:
- A generic equivalent is made with the same ingredients at the same dose as the brand drug. You can expect the same results as with the brand drug.
Example: ibuprofen (generic) is the same drug as Motrin® (brand)
- A generic alternative works like a brand drug or another generic drug in the same class of medicines. But the ingredients in a generic alternative are different than the brand drug or its generic equivalent. So, overall results may be somewhat different.
Example: naproxen (generic for Aleve®) is a generic alternative used for the same desired effect as ibuprofen (generic for Motrin®)
Important: Your pharmacist can usually substitute a generic for a brand drug without a new prescription from your doctor. But only your doctor can determine whether a generic alternative is right for you and must prescribe the medication.