When it comes to buying generic items, making a choice can come down to weighing the pros and cons. Generic versions of brand-name items tend to be cheaper; if they can match the quality of the original product, then why not go for the generic option? Of course, choosing between a generic cereal or juice doesn’t feel as potentially risky as going with a generic medication as opposed to the familiar, brand-name drug.
It’s definitely something worth considering, however. “Americans spend more on prescription drugs—average costs are about $1,300 per person per year—than anyone else in the world,” reports Bloomberg. “It’s true that they take a lot of pills, but what really sets the U.S. apart from most other countries is high prices.”
It’s important to know when to ask your doctor about a safe, cheaper alternative to an expensive name-brand medication. Read on for four options that will spare your wallet.
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Arthritis causes painful swelling of the joints, and according to Verywell Health, “More than 22 percent of American adults (over 52.5 million people) have arthritis or another rheumatic condition diagnosed by a doctor.”
The Arthritis Foundation explains that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to help alleviate the discomfort of arthritis “by blocking hormone-like substances called prostaglandins” which can contribute to conditions such as arthritis and menstrual cramping.
UpToDate reports that prescription NSAIDs like Celebrex can cost almost $400 a month, while its generic counterpart, Celecoxib, only costs about $10 to $20.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology reports that over 50 billion Americans suffer from allergies annually. “Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion,” says the site. A survey by ValuePenguin revealed that consumers spend an average of $16,000 over a lifetime on addressing their seasonal allergies.
Antihistamines, such as the non-prescription medicine Claritin, work by addressing histamine production. “When your body comes into contact with whatever your allergy trigger is—pollen, ragweed, pet dander, or dust mites, for example—it makes chemicals called histamines,” explains WebMD. “They cause the tissue in your nose to swell (making it stuffy), your nose and eyes to run, and your eyes, nose, and sometimes mouth to itch,” possibly in addition to “an itchy rash on your skin, called hives.”
Antihistamines reduce or block histamines, says the site. But while Claritin can cost up to $30 per month, the generic version, Loratadine, goes for just $4 to $8, according to UpToDate.
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Some people have found success with non-medication approaches to osteoporosis, prescription drugs, or a combination of both. But the monthly cost of a brand-name osteoporosis drug such as Boniva can cost a whopping $536 to $600 for three tablets, reports UpToDate. Meanwhile, the generic version, Ibandronate, costs between $20 to $110—still expensive, but definitely more manageable.
Why such a drastic difference? “Generic drug makers are able to both develop and sell the generic medications at a much lower cost, not because the quality of the generic is inferior to the brand-name drug, but because the original manufacturer has already paid for the bulk of costs to discover and develop a prescription drug from scratch,” explains eHealth Insurance.
People who suffer from migraines know the desperate need to find a solution to the often-debilitating pain. And not only can migraines be incredibly painful, this type of headache can also serve as a warning sign of more serious conditions. Medications like triptans “cause the blood vessels around the brain to narrow (contract),” explains the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS). “This reverses the widening of blood vessels that’s believed to be part of the migraine process.”
At a cost that can surpass $600 for nine tablets of Imetrex, relief can be difficult to attain. However, the generic version, Sumatriptan, runs a much more reasonable $10 to $30 for the same amount, says UpToDate.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you’re taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.