When it comes to prescription pharmaceuticals, we aren’t always given the options we want and need. Arguably, the best example of our lack of choice involves brand name and generic drugs.
Brand Name Drugs. When a pharmaceuticals company develops a drug, there is an extensive (and expensive) research and development process. Once the company has a drug that it believes works for a certain medical condition, the medication has to undergo rigorous testing in order to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Laboratory trials are followed by what are called clinical trials, where the drug is given to a relatively small group of people to see if the medication works and if there are side effects. Once the pharmaceuticals company has passed that hurdle, it then must conduct more extensive clinical trials using a much larger number of people. It is only when the company has proven the efficacy of the drug and a lack of harmful effects that the FDA approves the medication to treat specific medical conditions.
Moving from Brand Names to Generic Drugs. Because the pharmaceuticals company has spent so much money in the research, development, and testing phases, it is granted a patent on the drug for a certain length of time – usually 17 years. During this time, only the brand name version of the medication is available. Once its patent has expired, other manufacturers can make their own versions of the drug, which can either be marketed under brand names or as what is known as the generic version of a drug. For example, Valium is the brand name of the anti-anxiety drug, while diazepam is the generic version of the same drug. Sometimes a drug like codeine will be combined with another drug and given a brand name.
Reasons for Consumer Lack of Choice. When it comes to pharmaceuticals, patients often face one of two dilemmas: either their doctors only prescribe brand name drugs, which are much more costly, or their medical insurance only covers the cost generic drugs.
Seemingly, there are three reasons why doctors prescribe brand name drugs. The first is that, although generic drugs must prove that they have the same efficacy as brand name drugs, some doctors find that brand name drugs have a chemical combination that is superior to generics for certain conditions. The second is that pharmaceuticals companies spend a tremendous amount of money marketing brand name drugs to doctors, and encouraging them to prescribe brand name drugs. The third is that drug companies advertise heavily to consumers, and consumers sometimes demand a brand name prescription.
More often, however, a person’s lack of medical insurance or medical insurance that only covers generic drugs leads to doctors’ favoring generic drugs over brand name drugs. After all, if you have a choice of paying $197 for a brand name drug or a $15 co-pay for a generic drug, you’d be hard-pressed to opt for the more expensive drug – even if your doctor felt it would serve you better.
How an International Pharmacy Can Help. An international pharmacy, accessible to most people as an online pharmacy, can provide people with a convenient, private, affordable alternative to conventional pharmacies. Because an online international pharmacy uses highly qualified European physicians to review prescription requests and medical questionnaires, as well as licensed pharmacies, patients can have access to a wide range of brand name and generic medications. When it comes to taking care of your health, it’s always good to have as many choices as possible.