News and Updates

Mythbuster: Are brand name drugs better than generics?

October 18, 2016

Myth: Brand name drugs are safer and more effective than generic drugs.

Fact: Generic drugs are every bit as safe and effective as brand drugs. In fact, they are equivalent to the brand version in dosage, safety, strength, quality, the way they work and the way they’re taken.

Generic drugs are simply unbranded pharmaceutical products. They use the same active ingredients as the original brand formulation and work the same way in the body, so they have the same therapeutic benefits but cost less.

Saving money with generics

Brand name drugs are offered at a higher cost in order to allow the company that conducted the research and development of the new drug to recover its investment. This means that generic drugs cost less because the effectiveness of the brand drug has already been established through clinical testing and years of patient use. As a result, Health Canada and regulatory bodies around the world agree it’s scientifically unnecessary to repeat that same level of testing for the generic drug. The savings are substantial and are passed along to you in the form of lower prices.

In fact, generic drugs cost an average of 60% less than their brand counterparts, which means they can potentially save you money on additional out-of-pocket expenses that your drug plan doesn’t cover.

Choosing generic over brand name drugs

Not all brand drugs are available in generic form. Brand drugs are developed under patent protection for 20 years, so generic drug companies must apply to Health Canada to sell a generic version of a drug after the brand drug’s patent(s) expires. The best way to find out if a prescription drug is available in a generic version is to ask your doctor or pharmacist. Next time you visit your pharmacist to fill a prescription or are prescribed a medication by your doctor, consider asking the following questions:

  • Is this prescription for a generic drug?
  • Is there a generic version of my drug available?
  • Can I substitute my medication with the generic?
  • How much will I save under my prescription plan if I switch to a generic?

To learn more about generic drugs, visit If you have a question about your drug coverage under your benefit plan, consult your benefits booklet or contact an OTIP Benefits Services Representative at 1-866-783-6847.

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