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Drug Coverage - Generic Drugs

Using generic drugs saves money. When your doctor writes a prescription, ask if a generic is available that is right for you. If you have questions about what you are currently taking, talk with your doctor. Treatment decisions always rest solely with you and your doctor. Here are some answers to questions about generic drugs.

  • What are generic drugs?

    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.

  • Why do generic drugs look different than brand drugs?

    Laws require that a generic drug look different than a drug already on the market. So, a generic equivalent will be a different size, shape, and/or color than the brand drug. Although the active ingredient in a generic drug is always the same as the brand drug, the generic may have different inactive ingredients, such as a coating or flavoring.

  • Are generics as safe as brand drugs?

    Yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must review and approve generic drugs before they are made available to the public. Brand drugs have years of testing and clinical research behind them. Generics must have the same active ingredients as their brand drugs. The Blue Cross Community Centennial Plan requires use of generic drugs when available.

  • Are generics available for all prescription drugs?

    No. However, over 80% of all prescriptions are now filled with generic drugs. So there's a good chance a generic can be substituted or your prescription can be changed to another drug that has generic available. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a generic for the drug you take.

  • How can I learn about generic drugs?

    Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about generic drugs. Ask your doctor which generic might be an option for you. If you have questions about your prescription plan benefits, call the customer service number on the back of your ID card. These resources also provide more information about generic drugs:

    FDA generic drug brochure*

* Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico prescription drug benefits are administered by Prime Therapeutics, LLC. Services are funded in part under a contract with the State of New Mexico.