Generic Drugs

What you need to know

Why switch to Generic over brand name?

Generic drugs are a safe and equally effective alternative to higher cost brand name drugs.

Switching to generic drugs can help you and your benefits plan realize significant savings without compromising your health.

What is a generic drug?

Generic drugs are copies of brand name drugs that are produced once the brand name drug’s patent has expired. Brand name drugs and their generic equivalents contain the exact same medicinal ingredients and effectiveness.

What are the differences?

There are two differences between brand name drugs and their generic equivalents:

Non-medical filler ingredients

While the filler ingredients can differ, potentially changing the appearance of the generic equivalent, the effectiveness of the drug does not change.


Generic alternatives can cost up to 50% less than their brand name equivalents.

How are generic drugs regulated?

Strict government regulations ensure that generic equivalent drugs are equal to the brand name drugs in terms of

  • purity

  • effectiveness

  • quality

  • dosage (must dissolve at the same rate)

  • route of administration (must be absorbed in the same manner)

Health Canada monitors the production and rigorous testing of both generic and brand name drugs and ensures generic equivalents are as effective as their brand name counterparts.

Why are generic alternatives often cheaper?

When brand name drugs release under patent, the manufacturer chooses their own price.

Often times, the price is set significantly higher than the cost of production in order to recover from development costs (usually hundreds of millions of dollars); including research and testing for safety and effectiveness.

Once a patent expires, other manufacturers can begin producing generic equivalents. These manufacturers are able to charge a reduced price because they haven’t incurred the development costs in order to establish the drug.

With generic drug manufacturers entering the market, it’s strongly encouraged for them to price competitively in order to turn a profit from production.