When it comes to brand name vs. generics – have you ever wondered about the difference between the two? Are generics safe? Are generic drugs less effective? Why are they so much cheaper?

Maybe you believe in having a trusted brand name on the things you buy. Like genuine OEM parts for your car, tour-quality golf balls for your Sunday round, and Viagra or Cialis for your ED.

Why would you buy generic? After all, you know the names you trust, and surely the generic drug makers cut corners somewhere!

Well, here are the facts on generic drugs, straight from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They require that generic drugs be the same as the brand name they are substituted for in:
• dosage
• safety
• strength
• quality
• the way it works
• the way it is taken
• the way it should be used (1)

The FDA takes the safety and effectiveness of generic drugs very seriously. So seriously that they have an Office of Generic Drugs (the OGD) to make sure all generic drugs are every bit as safe and effective as brand name drugs. (2)

And you might be surprised to learn that 9 out of 10 prescriptions filled in the United States is for a generic drug, not the “brand-name”! (1)

Still, there must be differences, right? Surely generic drug makers cut corners in the manufacturing process to save money and sell their version for less?

NO. All factories that make drugs must meet the same high standards set out by the FDA.

There isn’t one standard for brand name and one standard for generic drug factories. They all have to meet the same standards, or they can’t produce drugs. (1)

But, maybe you know someone who was getting those little blue pills and switched to a generic version. And when he got the generic version, it didn’t look the same as the “real thing”? Maybe that made him decide to switch back?

The good news is that while the pill may look different, it works the same. Your buddy’s generic sildenafil prescription didn’t look like the “little blue pill” because the appearance of that little blue pill is protected by trademark law. Only the company that owns the trademark can make their pills look like that. Generic drug companies don’t need to spend lots of money on marketing and branding their product, which is one reason their version costs less.

The generic version also costs less because the maker of the generic version didn’t have to invest money in developing the drug. Developing a new drug is expensive. Drug companies spend millions of dollars on research and testing before they can bring a new drug to market. When they finish development, they can patent the drug and have right to be the only maker of the drug for a period of time. Most drug patents in the US last for 17 years (1), and the developer has that time to sell the drug at a high price to earn back the money they spent developing the drug before competitors can start selling their own versions.

When the patent expires and the original developer has (hopefully) earned back the money they spent developing the drug, generic drug manufacturers are able to replicate the drug without spending more millions on research, passing those savings onto you. Win-win, right?

But maybe you have one last question. Since the generic drug looks different and doesn’t have a brand name stamped on it, how can you know that it really is an FDA-approved generic version that is safe and effective?

Glad you asked! Counterfeit drugs do exist, and pharmacists are careful to make sure they buy their drugs from reputable wholesalers. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has a strict accreditation program for drug wholesalers to make sure they follow best practices for sourcing and handling drugs. This way they know their product is from legitimate manufacturers and is not contaminated in storage or shipment. Wholesalers who meet those standards are known as Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributors (VAWD), and MyEDmeds.com only purchases their drugs from VAWD wholesalers. (3)

That’s a lot, so let’s sum up with the big things to remember when considering a generic ED drug, or any generic drug:
• Generics are required to be as safe and effective as brand-names.
• Generics can save you money.
• Like any drug, only buy generic drugs from a trusted source that tells you where your drugs are coming from.

So remember those three things when discussing your prescription with your doctor and when deciding where to have it filled. Then you’ll be on the right track to safe and effective treatment.

1- https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resources-you-drugs/questions-answers-and-facts-about-generic-drugs
2 – https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/center-drug-evaluation-and-research-cder/office-generic-drugs
3 – https://www.pbahealth.com/using-vawd-certified-wholesaler-matters/