Medications in the United States are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. According to the FDA, generic medications authorized by the administration are equal to their brand-name counterparts in all respects. Only the prices of the medications are different. Generic medications are often significantly less expensive than brand-name drugs. Marketplace competition is one reason for the lower pricing of generic medication.
Another reason is producers of generic equivalents to name-brand medications are not required to conduct clinical studies for safety. The ingredients have already been proven to be safe by the time the medications are produced.
Most generic medications purchased in the United States are safe and effective. However, there are some generic medications you must take with caution. Also, certain generic medications may offer you more immediate or long-term savings than others. You can review the information below about the best medicines to buy generic versus medications to take with caution. You should note that average medication prices can fluctuate, and the information listed below is approximate. For up-to-date information, it is best to use a resource to compare pharmacy prices.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, more commonly known as NSAIDS, are common pain relief medications. Typically, they can be purchased over the counter in drugstores and other locations. They are also sometimes prescribed in higher doses by medical professionals. They include naproxen and ibuprofen, which are commonly sold under popular brand names like Motrin and Aleve. Uses for such medications include:
- Fever reduction.
- Inflammation reduction.
- General pain relief.
You are likely to use such medications frequently throughout the year to treat pain and discomfort associated with common ailments like the flu or arthritis. Such medications are often inexpensive when purchased over the counter. However, purchasing brand name medications can still cost more than a generic equivalent. Purchasing them in their generic forms can save you approximately 20 percent or more, depending on the medication. Some pharmacies may offer pharmacy discount cards that can offer coupons or other discounts on over-the-counter medication, especially for the generic equivalents. Looking into these types of programs can help you save even more money on your health care costs.
Vicodin is a popular medication in the U.S., according to data collected from pharmacies in 2017. It is a mixture of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and an opioid drug called hydrocodone. It comes in multiple forms, including tablets, syrups, liquid and capsules. Vicodin is a powerful pain relief medication. You are most likely to be prescribed name-brand or generic Vicodin if you have an injury or illness causing you constant pain. It is a medication meant to relieve your pain on an ongoing basis to allow you to be comfortable and get sufficient rest during recovery periods.
The average cost of name-brand Vicodin is different for each form of the drug. For example, prices for 5mg/300mg Vicodin tablets sold in bottles containing 60 pills each in popular pharmacies can cost $70 or more. However, the generic form can be purchased for as little as approximately $43. Sometimes the cost difference is a few dollars, but these differences can change by pharmacy and location. Similar discounts can be found on generic Vicodin tablets from many other sources. By taking advantage of such significant savings, you can obtain your prescription without exceeding your desired budget. Additionally, you can consider prescription savings applications that can help you find discounted medication prices through coupons and price comparisons.
Lipitor is a statin medication designed to lower your cholesterol. It is one of the most common medications taken in the United States. For many years, Lipitor was patent-protected and generic versions of it were not available. However, Lipitor lost its patent protection in 2011. Since then, generic versions of it have become widely available.
The generic version of Lipitor is called atorvastatin. It can be used to reduce cholesterol production in your liver. Taking it over time while eating healthy foods will lower levels of unhealthy triglycerides within your body. By controlling your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, atorvastatin can reduce your stroke and heart attack risk factors.
The average cost of atorvastatin in the U.S. is approximately $115 for a bottle containing 30 tablets at a dosage of 40mg per tablet. However, an equivalent amount of name brand Lipitor can cost more than $400. Given the potential to save such a significant amount, atorvastatin is definitely one of the best medicines to buy generic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists amoxicillin as an essential medicine. It is one of the most popular prescription medications in the United States. Amoxil was formerly the most common brand name for amoxicillin but the patent for Amoxil is expired. Since its expiration, the manufacturer has stopped producing Amoxil. However, many other companies are producing their own name-brand versions of the drug.
Amoxicillin is an antibiotic you may be prescribed when you have a bacterial infection. Specific types of bacterial infections usually treated with Amoxicillin include:
- Ear infections.
- Skin Infections.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Other infections relating to the throat and nose.
The average retail price for 30 capsules of generic Amoxicillin is $16.33. However, it can be purchased for as little as $4 per bottle from other sources. Therefore, it is one of the most affordable generic medications in the United States. However, your exact savings will vary based on the form of the medication you purchase. Common forms of amoxicillin include:
- Standard tablets.
- Suspension tablets.
- Extended-release tablets.
- Chewable tablets.
- Suspension powders.
Some pharmacies may even offer amoxicillin for free if you receive a prescription from a physician.
Money-Saving Medications to Use with Caution
Certain types of medications are part of a group of treatments known as “narrow therapeutic index” medications, or NTIs. According to the FDA, NTI medications often provide narrow windows of treatment. When their dosages are changed even slightly, they can become ineffective or cause adverse reactions and side effects. Common types of NTI medications include:
- Lithium carbonate.
The FDA must approve generic versions of the above drugs based on their bioequivalence to their brand-name equivalents. Therefore, they are safe by FDA standards when purchased from legal U.S. sources. Requesting your doctor prescribe generic versions of them can save you large amounts of money. In some states, your pharmacist may be able to suggest generic substitutions for NTIs. However, in other states, you must have physician approval to obtain generic versions because of the precise dosages needed.
Warfarin is one of the most common NTI medications used to prevent blood clots. Brand-name Warfarin is known as Coumadin. According to GoodRX, the average cost of 30 Coumadin tablets is a little over $90. Generic warfarin can be obtained for approximately $4 in an equivalent amount. Therefore, it is a much more affordable option. It is important to note that some types of health insurance plans may not cover certain generic and/or name brand medications, so it is important to examine your coverage details to determine what makes the most financial sense for you and your family.