Which Are Better: Generic or Name-Brand Medications?

Aged whiskey, high-speed laptops, extra-ply toilet paper–sometimes, ponying up for name brands buys higher quality. But when it comes to medications, generic drugs are like a plain white tee–the cheaper option does the same job as the one that breaks the bank.

“Generic drugs have the same active ingredients, strength, and quality as the name-brand versions,” says Dr. Michael Fischer, associate physician at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In fact, non-commercial meds must meet the same rigorous FDA standards as their well-promoted counterparts–differing no more than batches of big name drugs produced in separate factories, he explains.

So then why did a different Brigham and Women’s study find that nearly half of doctors surveyed admitted to having negative perceptions about the quality of generic pills?

Your doc may be swayed to prefer big name brands.

Drug companies have a massive ad budget, and doctors may be pushed into believing that commercial versions are superior, says Dr. Howard Brody, director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at The University of Texas Medical Branch.