Saving money on medicine - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Saving money on medicine

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Madison (WKOW) -- In these economic hard times, everyone's trying to save money.

  And if there's one thing most people know about generic drugs, it's that they cost less than the brand name version.

  But some question whether cheaper is actually better -- especially with medications.

  Like many older adults, Elizabeth Dexter takes a number of prescription medications.

  She said, "I take medications which are basically for heart and high blood pressure, one for thyroid."

  Most are generic, less expensive copies of the brand name drugs.

  Elizabeth says they work about the same.

  Dexter also said, "I really didn't see any difference."

  And that's the way it's supposed to be, according to pharmacist Tami Remington.

  "Generic drugs are required to submit an application to the fda before they enter the market," Remington said.

  Trademark laws don't allow generics to look like their brand name counterparts.

  But their active ingredients should be the same.

  Remington added, "they have to show that their medication contains the same amount and is released into the bloodstream the same way that the brand name drug is. They also have to show that the facilities where they make the drug, the factories, pass certain high standards of the FDA and that their manufacturing processes are also in accordance with FDA requirements."

  A brand name drug costs more because the company that developed it spent millions of dollars on research.

  "The generic manufacturers only bear the cost of manufacturing the product and bringing it to market that way - and not doing the research - and so that's why they're able to bring it at a much lower cost," said Remington.

  Competition among generic drug makers also drives down the price, making the cost of medications a little bit easier to swallow.

  The price war among discount chains also makes generics an even bigger bargain.

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