Generic drugs

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Your plan's drug formulary may include both brand-name and generic drugs.

  • Brand-name drugs are produced and sold under the original manufacturer's brand name.
  • Generic drugs are produced and sold under their generic names after the patent of the brand-name drug expires.

Although the price is usually lower, the quality of generic drugs is the same as brand-name drugs. Generic drugs are also just as effective as brand-name drugs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that a generic drug contain the same active drug ingredient in the same amount as the brand-name drug. However, a generic drug may differ in other ways, such as color, flavor, shape, or inactive ingredients.

Some brand-name drugs have a generic version and others do not. When both versions are available, usually only the generic version is listed in our formulary. When a generic version is not available, the formulary will list the brand-name version.

For more information about generic drugs, learn about covered drugs in your area.

Reviewed by: Mark Groshek, MD, and David McWaters, PharmD, JD, May 2014
© 2014 Kaiser Permanente

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