5 things to know before filling a generic prescription

5 things to know before filling a generic prescription

Brandpoint (BPT)

(BPT) – Like many people, you may visit a pharmacy on a regular basis to fill prescriptions. However, you may not be aware of the options available to you when it comes to generic medications. For example, do you ever wonder why your prescription may not look the same every month? There may be multiple manufacturers of the generic medication you are prescribed, so the version of the generic you receive will depend on which pharmacy you go to or which manufacturer the pharmacy stocks on their shelf that month. It can all be very confusing.

When it comes to prescription medications, it’s important to make informed decisions—starting with knowing your options and the differences between brand name, traditional generics, and a third, lesser-known class of medications called Authorized Generics.

Here are five things to keep in mind when filling your next prescription:

1. Generic medications work in the same way as the brand, but they generally cost less.

Generic medications are available at lower costs than many brand name medications. Despite the fact that 90% of prescription drugs dispensed through retail pharmacies in the United States in 2019 were generics, they only accounted for 22% of total drug spending.1 The FDA website explains that “a generic medicine works in the same way and provides the same clinical benefit as its brand-name version” but tends to cost less than its brand name counterparts because the manufacturer does not have to repeat studies that were required of the brand name medicines to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.2

2. Traditional generic medications can vary in size, shape, and color.

Many traditional generics may have minor differences when compared to the brand name products on which they are based. These variances may include differences in shape, size, or color.3

Additionally, while FDA standards require that all generic medications have the same intended use and perform the same way in the human body as the brand, traditional generics may also have some variability from the brand in inactive ingredients. Inactive ingredients are usually harmless substances that do not affect the body. However, in some cases, changes in inactive ingredients may not be well tolerated in certain patients.4

3. There is another type of generic medication, Authorized Generics, which are made by brand name drug manufacturers.

An Authorized Generic is made by the manufacturer of the original brand name drug, but it does not use the brand name on the label. They are generally the same size and shape as the brand name version and in limited circumstances may be a different color. Authorized Generics are typically made in the same manufacturing facility as the original brand and carry the legacy of the brand name product’s years of clinical research, data, and patient and physician experience.5

4. Authorized Generics are available at generic pricing.

A number of factors will determine how much you will pay for your medicine, including insurance co-pays, pharmacy charges, and savings cards. However, generics, including Authorized Generics, generally cost less than brand name medications. Authorized Generics are available at generic pricing. Please contact your insurance or pharmacy for your specific cost information.

5. You may have to do research to find an Authorized Generic.

Authorized Generics are not new, but many people don’t know about them or how to access them. And while not every medication with a generic option has an Authorized Generic version, many do. For a list of available Authorized Generics, you can visit the FDA website. It is also important to note that not all pharmacies stock Authorized Generics and you may need to ask your pharmacist to order them for you, or find a pharmacy that stocks the Authorized Generic version of your medication.

Greenstone, a U.S.-based company owned by Pfizer Inc., has been providing Authorized Generic versions of original brand name drugs for over 25 years. To help those looking for Greenstone medications, they recently launched a website, GreenstoneGenerics.com, so people can learn more about Authorized Generics and where to locate them. Greenstone also provides Authorized Generics from other manufacturers in addition to several generic products.

Information provided by Greenstone.


  1. Association for Available Medicines. The Case for Competition 2019 Generic Drug & Biosimilars Access & Savings in the U.S. Report. 2019. RxAccessReport.us.
  2. US Food and Drug Administration. Generic Drug Facts. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/generic-drugs/generic-drug-facts. Accessed February 18, 2020.
  3. US Food and Drug Administration. Generic drugs: Questions and Answers. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/questions-answers/generic-drugs-questions-answers. Accessed February 18, 2020.
  4. Smith Marsh DE. Bioequivalence and Interchangeability of Generic Drugs. Merck Manual. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/drugs/brand-name-and-generic-drugs/bioequivalence-and-interchangeability-of-generic-drugs. Accessed February 18, 2020.
  5. US Food and Drug Administration. FDA list of authorized generic drugs. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/HowDrugsareDevelopedandApproved/ApprovalApplications/AbbreviatedNewDrugApplicationANDAGenerics/ucm126389.htm. Accessed February 18, 2020.