Is Generic Medicine Actually Saving You Money?

Posted on January 29, 2015


By: Shea McCord

generic medicine

Have you ever thought about what kinds of medicine you are given when you go to the pharmacy?  Are you given the brand name medicine or the generic?  Chances are you are given a generic medication in order to help save you money.  But are you really saving money? Or are you still paying an excessive amount for your generic medications?

Generic medicines were introduced to the market under the impression that they would be more affordable to consumers in comparison to brand name medicines.  Unfortunately, recent data has found that “one half of generic medicines went up in price between last summer and this summer; about 10 percent more than doubled in cost in that time, with some common medicines rising by over 500 percent.”  If the cost of the generic medicines is increasing so drastically, how are consumers expected to pay for their prescriptions?  As long as consumers continue to want their medications, they must still be willing to pay the increasing cost of the generic medicines. The reasoning behind this is because “brand name medicines have increased in price as well, by an average of 12.9 percent in 2013.”  Because brand name medications are increasing in price, consumers are forced to pay the increasing prices of the generic medications.

Ralph G. Neas, president of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, claims that “generic drugs had saved Americans $1.46 trillion in the past decade, and $239 billion in 2013, compared with the price of brand drugs.”  The only way that generic medications can save Americans billions and trillions of dollars is for brand name medicines to be much more expensive than generic medicine.  Otherwise, with the drastic price increases, billions of dollars would not have been saved in 2013 because not everybody can afford medications at higher prices, causing them to look elsewhere for their medication.

So how exactly do the consumers who cannot afford such generic medicines still receive the medication that they need?  Often, such consumers begin to look outside of the United States for other purchasing opportunities.  Troy D. Jackson, a state senator, reports “mainers had long been travelling over the border to get cheaper medicines … ‘They were organizing bus trips because the price difference was so extreme.’”  How extreme is this price difference?  Lanoxin, a brand name heart medicine, “sells for $24.30 in Canada” whereas its generic medication, digoxin, “sells for $187 in New York.”  Why would anyone be willing to pay almost $200 for the generic version of a medication, when he or she could travel a short distance to Canada, or order the medication online, and pay about $25 for the brand name?

Obviously there are better alternatives in existence than the act of simply purchasing generic medicine from your local pharmacy.  If you were truly looking to save money, researching other countries’ pharmaceuticals in order to compare the prices of your medication would be extremely helpful.  If you do this, you can decide whether you would receive a better deal from the United States or from an alternative country or resource.  Otherwise, you may have to be content overpaying for a generic medicine and understand you are not actually saving money no matter how much the manufacturers try to convince you because the generic brand is not necessarily saving you your hard-earned cash.





Rosenthal, Elisabeth. “Lawmakers Look for Ways to Provide Relief for Rising Cost of Generic Drugs.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Nov. 2014. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.

Posted in: Health