The FDA requires that before generic drugs can be sold they must undergo three forms of equivalency testing:
- Pharmaceutically equivalent: Generic drugs must have the same active ingredient’s), the same dosage form, and be identical in strength and purity to the brand-name version.
- Bio-equivalent: A generic drug must be absorbed into the bloodstream at the same rate and extent as the brand name drug.
- Therapeutically equivalent: If the drug is judged pharmaceutically and bio-equivalent, the drug is rated interchangeable with the brand name drug. Often the same company that makes the brand name drug also makes the generic version.
What should you ask the pharmacist if you buy the generic version? One question is always important: Is this generic drug “bio-equivalent” to the brand name drug?
Remember, too, that pharmacists can change the prescription from brand name to generic without asking you unless the doctor writes on the prescription: “No Substitutions.” (Excerpts taken from “Generic Drugs” by Bridget Kennebeck in “Geico Direct,” Fall 1998).
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