When shopping at the grocery store, do you automatically reach for the familiar brand name item you recognize from a TV commercial or magazine ad? When it comes to medications, you might be able to save money—without sacrificing safety or effectiveness—by choosing a generic drug.

Generics: What’s the Difference?

If your doctor prescribes a brand-name drug, always ask if there’s a generic equivalent. On average, generics cost 30 to 80% less than brand names. In many cases, generics have lower insurance co-payments, too. Generic drugs sold in the U.S. have to meet the same quality and performance standards as their brand-name counterparts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all generic medications:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as their brand-name counterparts
  • Have the same intended uses
  • Meet the same strength, identity, quality, and purity standards
  • Be identical in dosage form, strength, and how they’re taken
  • Adhere to the same strict manufacturing standards required for brand-name versions

A Sure Way to Save

While asking your doctor about generic drugs can help you keep more money in your pocket, the best way to reduce your prescription drug costs is to follow a healthier lifestyle. Changing your diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking are all ways to improve your health. When you’re healthier, your doctor might tell you good news: You no longer need expensive medications, or you can lower the dosage. Remember to always check with your doctor before you stop or start taking any medication.