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What Are the Differences between Brand Name and Generic Drugs?

Have you ever visited the pharmacy and wondered about all the different drug names? Medications often have a brand name and generic version. These two types of drugs might have a different name, but they administer the same treatment. As a pharmacy technician, you should know the difference between brand name and generic drugs.

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs can have both a brand name and generic version. For example, the pain reliever Tylenol also has a generic name called acetaminophen. The same manufacturer who makes the brand name might also make the generic drug or it could be a different manufacturer altogether.

Generic Drugs vs Brand Name Drugs

A generic drug is identical, or bioequivalent, to its brand name, but it’s usually sold at a discounted price.

Why Are Generic Drugs Cheaper?

Manufacturers can offer a generic drug at a lower price because they don’t have to cover the expense of years of research and development. The average cost of a generic drug is 80 to 85 percent lower than the brand name. Due to the higher cost of healthcare and copayments, generic drugs are popular options. For example, 8 in 10 prescriptions filled in the United States are for generic drugs. And this number is expected to grow.

Can Generic Drugs Be Different?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that a generic drug has the same active ingredient, strength, and dosage. However, it might contain different inactive ingredients from the brand name. Inactive ingredients such as dyes and preservatives might change the overall appearance of the drug, but its effectiveness remains the same.

Doctors, patients, and pharmacists might prefer generic drugs due to cost. However, some drugs are only available as a brand name drug because of patent restrictions. As a pharmacy technician, you’ll help the pharmacist dispense medication and provide quality customer service. Patients and doctors might have questions about drugs and their availability and you could be there to assist the pharmacist!


At Charter College, we can prepare you for a hands-on career as a pharmacy technician. Our pharmacy technician certificate program will train you in drug distribution systems, pharmacy operations, and much more! With our blended learning curriculum, you can get on the fast track in as little as 10 months. Get started today!