Generic drugs have the same active ingredient(s) as their equivalent brand name drugs. They also have the same effects, dosage, side effects, and risks, but generic drugs are typically significantly cheaper than their brand name alternatives.

When a drug is first developed, typically only a brand name version exists. However, when that company’s patent on the drug runs out, other companies can sell the same drug under a generic name.

Comparison chart

Brand Name Drugs versus Generic Drugs comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartBrand Name DrugsGeneric Drugs
Availability Available first (before generics become available) Only available after patent runs out
Cost More expensive 80-85% cheaper
Chewable bubblegum flavored acetaminophen generic drug tablets
Chewable bubblegum flavored acetaminophen generic drug tablets


Generic drugs are significantly cheaper than brand name drugs, because the makers of generic drugs do not have to cover the cost of developing and marketing a new product. According to the FDA, a generic drug is typically 80-85% cheaper than the brand name alternative.[1]

For example, on, the price of Allegra (180mg, 30 tablets) is $17.99 whereas the generic Fexofenadine (180mg, 30 tablets) is $11.99; Tylenol (Extra Strength, 100 tablets) is $9.49 whereas Acetaminophen (Extra Strength, 100 tablets) is $2.39.


FDA regulations mean that generic drugs are required to be as safe and as effective as brand-name drugs. Trademark laws prevent generic drugs from looking exactly the same as brand-name drugs (for example, the pill might be a different color), but the drugs’ active ingredients are identical.


Because they are both monitored by the FDA in the same way, there is no additional risk in taking a generic drug over a brand-name drug.


On March 25th 2013, the Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the release of generic drugs. The FTC argues that brand-name drug makers are paying other drug companies to delay their release of generic versions to ensure that they can keep their drug prices high. Another case is also currently going through the Supreme Court to decide whether the makers of generic drugs are liable for any harm that a drug does, as these drugs must be identical, in content and labeling, to the brand name version.

Common Brands/Generics

A list of generic alternatives to brand name drugs is available here. Generic alternatives for some of the commonly used drugs include:

Brand Name Drug Generic equivalent Medical use
Abilify Aripiprazole Psychosis, Depression
Adderall Dextroamphetamine and Levoamphetamine ADHD treatment
Advil Ibuprofen Painkiller, fever reducer
Advair Diskus, Seretide Fluticasone + Salmeterol Asthma
Agiolax Sphagula husk + Senna Gastrointestinal disorders
Allegra fexofenadine Seasonal allergies
AmoxilamoxicillinAntibiotic used to treat infection
Atripla Emtricitabine/tenofovir/efavirenz HIV infection
Avastin Bevacizumab Colorectal cancer
Copaxone Glatiramer Multiple sclerosis
Crestor Rosuvastatin Cholesterol
Cymbalta Duloxetine Depression, Anxiety disorders
Enbrel Etanercept Rheumatoid arthritis
Epogen Erythropoietin Anemia
Humira Adalimumab Rheumatoid arthritis
Januvia sitagliptin Diabetes
Lantus Insulin analog (Insulin glargine) Type 2 and type 1 diabetes
Lipitormethylphenidate Cholesterol
Lyrica Pregabalin Neuropathic pain
Motrin Ibuprofen Painkiller, fever reducer
Neosporin neomycinInfection
Neulasta Filgrastim Neutropenia
Nurofen Ibuprofen Painkiller, fever reducer
OxyContin Oxycodone Pain
PrevacidLansoprazoleAcid reflux, GERD
ProzacfluoxetineDepression, OCD
ProvigilModafinilNarcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea
Remicade Infliximab Crohn's disease, Rheumatoid arthritis
Ritalinmethylphenidate ADHD, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and narcolepsy
Rituxan, MabThera Rituximab Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Rheumatoid arthritis
Spiriva Tiotropium Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Truvada Tenofovir + Emtricitabine HIV infection
Tylenol Acetaminophen Pain reliever, Fever reducer
VicodinAcetaminophen + hydrocodoneModerate to severe pain relief
Vyvanse ADHD treatment
Xanax Alprazolam Anxiety, Panic disroders


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"Brand Name Drugs vs Generic Drugs." Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 20 Jun 2017. < >