Your plan’s list of covered drugs, known as a formulary, includes both brand-name and generic drugs.
- A brand-name drug is made and sold by the company that develops and patents it.
- A generic drug is a copy of the brand-name drug that’s made and sold after the original drug’s patent expires.
The quality and effectiveness of generic drugs is the same as brand-name drugs, but the price is usually lower.
The Food and Drug Administration requires that a generic drug have the same active ingredient, in the same amount, as the brand-name drug. But a generic drug can differ in other ways, such as color, flavor, shape, or inactive ingredients.
Not all brand-name drugs have generic versions. When both versions are available, usually only the generic version is included in our formulary. When a generic version isn’t available, the formulary will include the brand-name version.
Reviewed by: Mark Groshek, MD, and David McWaters, PharmD, JD, May 2014
© 2014 Kaiser Permanente