From the Fall 2012 Issue of   Newsletter

Most drug classes offer several options. Some are higher-cost brand name drugs and others are lower-cost generic options. Choosing a generic medicine can save you money each time you fill a prescription while still safely and effectively treating your condition.

Generic medications are available for common conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, allergies, asthma, migraines, stomach acid conditions, osteoporosis, infections, depression, pain/inflammation, migraines, overactive bladder and many other conditions.  All generic drugs must be reviewed and approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The FDA requires generic equivalents to have the same active ingredients, and to work in the body the same way as the brand-name drug.  Generic medicines may look different in size or color, and their names are different (they are referred to by their chemical names instead of brand names), but the FDA has the same standards for their quality and effectiveness as for their brand-name counterparts.

Good News…

When a brand-name drug's patent protection expires, the FDA can approve generic versions of the drug.  Many brand-name drugs have already lost or are about to lose patent protection, which means more generics are coming into the marketplace. You need not learn the chemical name of the generic option because Massachusetts law has long mandated that generics be substituted for a brand unless the doctor writes otherwise.  The GIC urges patients to use generics when they are available – they save you and your plan money.

Examples of brand name drugs, and the conditions they’re most commonly used to treat, with recently approved generic equivalents are:

  • Lipitor® - for high cholesterol
  • Plavix® - for preventing blood clots
  • Lexapro® - for depression
  • Zyprexa® - for symptoms of schizophrenia
  • Seroquel® - for symptoms of schizophrenia

Examples of brand name drugs, and the conditions they’re most commonly used to treat, that are scheduled to have a generic version later this year are:

  • Singulair® - for asthma
  • Actos® - for type 2 diabetes
  • Diovan®- for high blood pressure

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about changing to a generic medication when it becomes available.  If no generic equivalent exists for a prescription you are taking, consider asking your doctor if there is a generic alternative medicine available to treat your condition. It’s a good idea to ask about generic options every time your doctor prescribes a new medication.

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.