What do you know about generics?

By Lee Bellinger / January 26, 2015

You might suppose that physicians and pharmacists, as sticklers for safety and quality, would overwhelmingly prefer the name brand drugs. And that less-educated laymen, with lower average incomes, would opt for the cheaper generic versions. You would be wrong.

A 2014 study conducted by University of Chicago researchers found that the more informed you are about drugs, the more likely you are to choose generics. For example, if you know that the active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen, you are more likely to choose generic acetaminophen. If you know that the active ingredient Advil is ibuprofen, you are more likely to opt for store-label ibuprofen. In fact, the study found, about 92% of pharmacists buy store-brand headache remedies.

There is one advantage in opting for a national brand drug instead of the generic equivalent. It’s not an advantage the pharmaceutical companies are eager to tout, though. In the event that a drug causes you harm, you’re more likely to be able to receive damages in a lawsuit if the defendant is a big-name drug company. It’s unlikely that you’d ever have to sue a drug maker or be a party in a class-action lawsuit against one. But you never know, there might be exceptions.

Take Novartis, a big name in brand-name pharmaceuticals, it’s also a massive player in the generics market. Its generic pharmaceuticals division Sandoz, is a global industry leader, offering affordable, high-quality medicines. It is the third-largest division of Novartis, representing nearly 16% of the group’s total net sales. Just look at the generics it makes to compete with these named brabds that are NOT Novartis products.

Sandoz top products:

Amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (Augmentin®)

Omnitrope (Somatropin®)

Enoxaparin sodium injection (Lovenox®)

Acetylcysteine (Fluimucil®)

Fentanyl (Duragesic®)

Omeprazole (Prilosec®)

Lactobacillus (Linex®)

Tacrolimus (Prograf®)

Sumatriptan (Imitrex®/Imigran®)

Atorvastatin (Lipitor®)

*Product names identified by a “®” are trademarks that are not owned by or licensed to the Novartis Group of companies.