Generic products often get a bad rap. They are seen as inferior, or somehow less valuable and reliable than their name-brand counterparts. Some people think that lower cost means lower quality.
As consumers, we are tuned to trust big brands. Nike and Adidas dominate sportswear, for example. Or look no further than headphones. Are the $300 headphones really six times better than the $50 pair?
The same bias exists in the world of pet medications. Mega-brands like Frontline and Heartgard dominate the market at the expense of the less expensive generic alternatives, like Flea5X Plus, generic for Frontline.
Consumers are generally leery of brands they aren't familiar with and are willing to pay a bit extra for the peace of mind that accompanies a household name. However, that might not make the most sense for your wallet.
Here are answers to some common questions around generic pet medications.
Yes. A rigorous multi-step approval process by either the EPA or the FDA confirms that generic alternatives meet the same safety and quality standards as brand name medication. Ingredients in generic medication must meet extremely stringent quality standards and must show product stability and equivalency that remains consistent over the entire date range that it is given by the manufacturer, and the one that must be stamped clearly on each medication bottle.
Generic brand pet medications must pass the same tests and inspections as their brand-name equivalents. Both the brand name drug and the generic equivalent version of the drug must meet strict FDA standards which could take several years to complete. The facilities are inspected, the drug's stability is measured again and again in an ongoing quality assurance program, and the drugs must be bioequivalent.
Generics are tested to ensure that they contain the same level of medication and are as effective as their brand name counterparts. Generic drugs must show bioequivalence to the brand name. If two medications are measured to be bioequivalent, then they are essentially the same. Bioequivalence is measured by doing blood concentration studies and placing these blood levels on a graph then comparing these readings with the brand name drug. Concentration is measured as the drug is absorbed, distributed throughout the body, and then eliminated. These numbers are measured and compared and they must be the same.
Brand names have received investment backing from the makers of the drug to support the research, development, and marketing of the medication for the duration of that particular product's patent. As the patents near expiration, other manufacturers apply to the EPA or FDA to sell generic versions with much lower development costs. As a result, these generic manufacturers can afford to sell their products for less.
Nope. The cost of creating the drug is relatively constant. The most expensive part is bringing the product to market. The cost of development, clinical trials, and marketing and promotions run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. When a single manufacturer that holds the patent on a particular product has spent that much to bring the medication to the public and now has exclusive rights to sell it, they will charge whatever the market will allow to recoup their expenditures.
Absolutely not. Generic drugs, like Tri-Heart Plus, work the same way and in the same doses as the brand name products. They are required by the FDA to have the same purity, strength, and stability.
Yes. Since the generic medication must contain the same active ingredients as the brand, the adverse effects that occur with one will also occur with the other.
According to American trademark law, the generics are not allowed to look the same as the brand-name medications. While the inactive ingredients may differ, for example color and flavor, the active ingredients are required by the EPA or FDA to be the same.
If you want more in-depth information about a particular generic drug, contact your veterinarian or pharmacist. They will be able to answer specific questions and give you any other information you require to make an informed decision.
The main thing to remember, whether you are a proponent of the generics or brand names, is to do your research when selecting the proper medication to keep your pet happy and healthy!
If you have any questions about generic medicines and your pet's health submit a question to our veterinarian, Dr. Dym.