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How do brand-name drugs and generics differ?
When scientists develop a new drug, they give it a generic name reflecting its chemical makeup. Once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the drug, the manufacturer markets it with a brand or trade name, which is usually shorter and easier to remember. A drug company can hold exclusive patent rights to make a drug for 20 years after its discovery. After that, other companies can start making generic versions of the drug.
Are generic drugs safe?
In almost all cases, generics work as well as their brand-name siblings, and often cost considerably less. This is possible not because of lower quality, but because research and advertising costs are much less for generics. Many insurance plans encourage you to accept the generic version of a drug whenever it's medically safe. Most doctors prescribe or let pharmacists substitute a generic when appropriate.
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