Brand-Name Drugs vs. Generics

Dr. Karen Latimer discusses differences, and if you should make the switch.
4:44 | 11/29/11

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Transcript for Brand-Name Drugs vs. Generics
Since it was first introduced in 1996. The cholesterol reducing drug Lipitor has had a monopoly on the market. On November 30 though the patent for the drug which is produced by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer runs out meaning a generic version -- finally be available. But what's the difference between the brand name and the generic should you make the -- Here to explain -- doctor Karen -- after -- thanks so much for joining thanks for having me -- a lot of people are very reliant on this drug now and -- there may be a little nervous about switching to the generic version even though -- so much cheaper is there. Any basis to be worried. There isn't and -- and you can understand why people are wary because cheaper often means inferior. In this case it doesn't. Lipitor is much more expensive than what's going to come out -- these generic brands probably eighty. Ebitda 85% cheaper generic brands will be and they're just as good and what makes a drug a generic brand for -- It would have to have these -- active ingredient to the same spot ecologically needs to function saint to the same strain the same dose the -- efficacy. But what makes it a little different is the -- that go into it has to look a little different from a trademark perspective than the original drug. But according to the FDA and government regulations passed a function exactly the same and the drug is just as carefully regulated as the name Brandon absolutely but that's the concern people don't think that it -- but it actually now tell these -- -- these -- cause any side effects the -- don't cause side effects although. Many people will argue that they do people -- -- drug and all of a sudden they are feeling. Something different than they felt before whether it psychological or maybe they -- very very small percent of the population that does have some. Side effects of the filler. I'm not short right but truthfully side effects come from active ingredient in the medication and not from the cellars which it really just give it its shape and his -- its -- sentence cleaver and yet generic drugs perhaps. So much cheaper -- in the name brand what is to account for this huge price difference. They don't have to put in the money up front so the company that makes the original drug spends years researching. Testing. Trying to get a -- marketing the drug generic companies come along they don't have to do any of that so none of that cost gets passed on to the consumer so that's why the pharmaceutical company is allowed to hold -- patent for a certain amount of time that's exactly right now because it's basically their reward you for having done all the hard work and it needs to be that way because they would be no. -- there be no incentive or motivation and stimulate so now that the pharmaceutical company will most likely go back and look at with a torn -- How can we tweak it and make it slightly better so people will spend more on -- new version right so happily take vehicle ever sat in which is the generic name of Lipitor and make it. A little bit better and different enough that we can get another patent for rights and so how different does that have to be significantly to get a new patent -- He is significantly yes it depends on the drug and it depends on you know what they're able to manipulate. But the FDA doesn't want this -- As generic drugs to be out there and as a society we want these generic drugs to be out there because health care so expensive and people. Can afford their medications and since they're just as good of course you we want people be able to afford them and be able to you do it economically. But so does have to be significant difference and now this generic version of Lipitor that's coming out November 30 how much cheaper than expected to be. We'll use spends and you've been three dollars a pill for Lipitor this could be as low as one dollar pill for Lipitor -- also insurance companies will. Cut the co payments for generic drugs so you are paying even forty dollars possibly for your co payment for your Lipitor -- do have drug health coverage. You might pay only four dollars. Four years cotton co payment for the month and bringing up insurance companies will they often refuse to pay for the name brand -- the generic is absolutely. Absolutely and it makes sense for them to do that he has the evidence is there the drug really is just as good right it just a matter of changing people's perception about it right the people have been coming in -- civil war on with a -- have a lot of questions about -- have to talk to the doctor and as he's at the arts. Perhaps a subset of the population that might have. -- psychological response to a different for -- right exactly well because -- become comfortable with something that you've been taking for a long time as he -- 1996 some people have been on this medication for very long time it's worked wonders for that very effective you know they say that about cholesterol normal every month they don't -- change I can't really blame them but I think. They need to be reassured that this medicine will work. Exactly the same as -- -- look at four. Did as an -- with the doors making the company makes Lipitor Pfizer's making one of the generic. Versions of the drug they can't beat them join -- exactly I think they went after Karen Adams in Lanka.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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