The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a prescription drug formulary which covers some of the medications used to treat its patients (known as Veterans). The formulary is updated regularly, but is currently restricted to treating a handful of conditions, such as erectile dysfunction (commonly known as “Viagra”) and arthritis. If you’re a Veteran and are looking for treatment for a chronic condition, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or diabetes, then your VA doctor may have suggested a generic version of a branded drug as an alternative to the brand name medication. For instance, the generic version of Viagra is known as sildenafil and is FDA approved to treat erectile dysfunction. While sildenafil is a great option for some patients, others may prefer the branded drug due to adverse side effects that some say are associated with the generic drug. In this article, we will briefly discuss the differences between branded and generic medications, as well as how generic medications work and the advantages and disadvantages of using them.

Branded vs. Generic Medications

Often, when individuals or insurance companies negotiate lower drug prices for a specific medication, they are actually receiving a better quality product at a lower cost. However, this doesn’t mean that all generic medications are good copies of the branded versions, and vice versa. In fact, there are several key differences between brand and generic medications that you should be aware of before buying any type of medication, including which one is better for yourself and which one is better for your wallet.

Generic Vs. Branded Medications: The Differences

Generic medications are copies of branded drugs which have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While this doesn’t mean that all generic medications are therapeutically equivalent to the branded versions, it does mean that they are considered safe and effective by the FDA. When purchasing generic medications, you should be aware of how they are classified by the FDA (e.g., “bioequivalent” or “biochemically equivalent”).

By contrast, a branded medication is a medication which the company who makes it has proven to be effective and safe in clinical trials or which has been proven to be effective and safe by the FDA (for example, Viagra). When purchasing a branded medication, you should consult with your physician to determine if it is right for your specific needs.

Why Are Branded Medications Usually Preferred?

One reason why many people prefer branded medications is because they are more familiar with the product. If you’ve been using a certain drug for a long time, then it’s likely that you have experienced some of its adverse side effects or noticed how effective it is. Having this knowledge makes it much easier to decide whether or not to purchase the drug. In most cases, adverse side effects are associated with a medication only when the medication is used improperly or without regard for the warnings and precautions which come with it. When a medication is prescribed by a physician, they usually give it a “once-daily dose”, meaning that they expect you to take it once per day (e.g., morning). Studies have shown that this dose timing helps reduce the side effects of some medications without sacrificing efficacy. While this may not be the case with all medications, it is a good idea to consult with your physician about the timing of your daily dose of any medication you are prescribed.

The Advantages of Branded Medications

There are several advantages to purchasing branded medications, including the below:

  • knowing that you’re getting a safe and effective product
  • being able to take the drug once or twice per day to achieve the same efficacy as when you take it once per day (for some medications)
  • being able to take the drug as needed instead of having to take it at a particular time every day (for some medications)
  • being able to take the drug with or without food (for some medications)

The disadvantages of Branded medications include the following:

  • the cost of the medication (it costs more to purchase a branded medication than it does to purchase a generic one)
  • the fact that you may have to try a different drug before you find one which works best for you (this is called “generic jumping”)
  • the need to consult with your physician at each change of prescription (this is called “pharmacist shopping”)
  • taking the medication while on a diet (this is called “dietary restriction”)
  • risk of addiction (this is called “pain tolerance”)
  • risk of overdose (this is called “drug tolerance”)

How Do Generic Medications Work?

Generic medications work by targeting the same receptors (cellular structures within the body which drug molecules bind to and activate) as the branded versions, however, they have been proven to be significantly less expensive to produce. As a result, the profits which pharmaceutical companies make off generic medications tend to be significantly higher than what they make off branded medications. This financial incentive allows for cheaper and more accessible medications, which in turn provides better care for more people. For this reason, generic medications are usually preferred when cost is a factor – especially when considering the fact that many physicians believe that generic medications do not have the same adverse side effects as branded ones do.

The Disadvantages of Generic Medications

Like branded medications, generic medications also have their disadvantages:

  • like branded medications, they can be more expensive than their counterparts (this is called “generic price-gapping”)
  • like branded medications, they can be difficult to find (this is called “drug shortage”)
  • since the FDA does not regulate them, it is more difficult to know the exact strength which you are receiving (this is called “potency discrepancy”). For this reason, it is always a good idea to read the medication’s label carefully and make sure that you are getting what you want.
  • there is no telling how long it will take for your body to adjust to the change (this is called “withdrawal effect”)

In summary, when choosing a medication, you need to balance the advantages and disadvantages of both types of medication. If you prefer, you can contact us at info@herbalimpotency.com with any questions you may have regarding the differences between various medications or regarding whether or not they may be suitable for your needs.

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