Answer to Question #49608 in Economics of Enterprise for Christoph
Do generic drugs replace or compete with brand-name drugs?
A generic drug is a chemically equivalent, lower-cost version of a brand-name drug, costing 30-80% less! A brand-name drug and its generic version must have the same active ingredient, dosage, safety, strength, usage directions, quality, performance and intended use. The lack of price competition may lead to increased costs in the private market. Private insurance companies generally do not require generic substitution and some provinces do not require generic substitution for cash-paying customers. Maintaining higher prices on brand-name drugs impacts on the prices of new patented medications. When a company develops a new drug and submits it for FDA approval, a 20-year patent is issued, preventing other companies from selling the drug during the life of the patent. As a drug patent nears expiration, any drug manufacturer can apply to the FDA to sell its generic version. Because these manufacturers didn’t have the same development costs (such as years of expensive research), they can sell the drug at a discount. Once generics are allowed, the competition keeps the price down. Today, almost half of all prescriptions are filled with generics. So, generic drugs now compete with brand-name drugs.