If you’re headed to the pharmacy to fill a prescription, you may have more options than you think.
Most of us know about generic medications—drugs that work in the same way as brand name medications and are usually available at a lower price. But you may not know that there are different types of generic medications—and it’s important to know your options.
Are all Generic Medications the Same?
All generic medications work in the same way and provide the same clinical benefit as the brand name versions.1
Generic medications become available when the patent expires for brand name drugs—medications sold by a drug company under a specific name or trademark.2,3
All generic medicines must meet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards for approval, and the FDA considers all generic drugs to have the same safety and efficacy as the brand name drug.2
But generic medications may vary in size, shape, and color from the brand name drug. Additionally, while generics are required to have the same active ingredients, they usually have some minor differences from the brand name in inactive ingredients.2,4
Typically, inactive ingredients are harmless substances that do not affect the body. But in some cases, changes in inactive ingredients may not be well tolerated in certain patients.5
It’s important to know there are different options when it comes to generic medications, including a lesser-known type called Authorized Generics.
What Are Authorized Generics?
While generic medications are made by other pharmaceutical companies, Authorized Generics are a category of generic drugs made by the manufacturer of the brand name drug, typically in the same facility as the original brand name drug, but they do not use the brand name on the label. Authorized Generics are the same size and shape as the brand name version and may have a different marking or, in limited circumstances, a different color. They are available at generic pricing. However, to know how much you will pay, you will need to check with your pharmacy or individual insurance plan, as a number of factors will determine how much you will pay for your medicine, including insurance co-pays, pharmacy charges, and savings cards.4
While Authorized Generics are a lesser-known prescription medication option, they are not new. For example, Greenstone LLC., a US-based company owned by Pfizer Inc., has been providing Authorized Generic versions of original brand name medications for more than 25 years. Greenstone sells over 70 of Pfizer’s brand name drugs as Authorized Generics that are prescribed to treat a range of conditions. Greenstone also provides Authorized Generics from other manufacturers, in addition to several generic products. Greenstone Authorized Generics carry the legacy of the brand name product’s years of clinical research, data, and patient and physician experience.
Is Your Medication Available as an Authorized Generic?
Authorized Generics are not available at all retail and chain pharmacies across the United States since pharmacies generally only stock one version of each generic product. However, if you’re interested in purchasing an Authorized Generic version of your medication, there are steps you can follow to find out if an Authorized Generic version of your medication is available and where to find it.
First, visit the FDA website, where you can find a list of all Authorized Generics.
Second, ask your pharmacist if they carry the Authorized Generic you are looking for, or if they can order it for you.
If your pharmacy is not able to provide it, you can use an Authorized Generics pharmacy locator service, such as the one at GreenstoneGenerics.com, to find a pharmacy near you or online that can fill your prescription with an Authorized Generic.
Next time you’re about to fill a prescription, check whether there’s an Authorized Generic version of your prescription.
Are Authorized Generics Right for You?
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Generic Drug Facts. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/generic-drugs/generic-drug-facts. Accessed February 18, 2020.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Generic drugs: Questions and Answers. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/questions-answers/generic-drugs-questions-answers. Accessed February 18, 2020.
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Brand Name (Drugs). https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/brand-name-drugs. Accessed April 17, 2020.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA list of authorized generic drugs. https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/HowDrugsareDevelopedandApproved/ApprovalApplications/AbbreviatedNewDrugApplicationANDAGenerics/ucm126389.htm. Accessed April 15, 2020.
- Smith Marsh DE. Bioequivalence and Interchangeability of Generic Drugs. Merck Manual. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/drugs/brand-name-and-generic-drugs/bioequivalence-and-interchangeability-of-generic-drugs. Accessed April 15, 2020.
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