Generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs that have exactly the same dosage,
intended use, effects, side effects, route of administration, risks, safety, and
strength as the original drug. In other words, their pharmacological effects are
exactly the same as those of their brand-name counterparts.
Many people have a perception that generics do not work as well as the name brand. That is simply not the case. Also, it can be a costly assumption to have.
There are two types of generic drugs, over the counter (OTC) and prescription. Often, our insurance company or pharmacist will choose a generic for us when we fill a prescription, though not always. It is important to ask at the pharmacy. Under my insurance plan, generics cost $10 while name brands are $30.
OTC, we get a choice between name brands like Tylenol and store brands that say “acetaminophen”. If you look at the active ingredients on a Tylenol box, you will see “acetaminophen”. Advil is really just ibuprofen. The same goes for cold medicines like NyQuil, allergy medicines like Claritin (loratadine) and Sudafed (suphedrine), and every other OTC on the shelf. They are the exact same thing, usually to the same measured specifications.
Don't just take my word for it, Dr. Melissa Stoppler at medicinenet.com says:
Why are they cheaper? The company that does the research and development for a new medication gets a trademark (name) and patent (drug makeup) for a certain length of time depending on certain factors. Once that time is up, other companies can market the same drug under a different name. That saves them tons of money on R&D, so they can sell it for less.
Generics are made by major companies under the same strict safety standards of the name brand. While labels may say Target, Walmart, CVS, or Rite Aid brand, most are made by the same group of companies such as Teva Pharmaceuticals or Mylan Inc.
To sum it up, don't be stupid. They are the same thing. Save the money. Buy generic whenever possible.