Legal medications — both over-the-counter remedies and prescription medications — have some of the most exacting regulations for creating and selling generic versions. The FDA requires that all store-brand medications have the same active ingredient dosage and safety measures as the brand-name meds they're replacing.
For store-brand pain relievers, and allergy and antacid medications, you've probably noticed a significant difference in pricing. For example, buying the generic version of over-the-counter medications can save consumers as much as 73 percent.
This factor — price — is the primary way that store brand medications differ from brand names. So why are brand name medications so much more expensive? They do the heavy lifting when it comes to research and development, clinical trials and marketing. According to Tufts Center for Drug Development, the cost to develop a new prescription drug is about $2.87 billion.
For 20 years after developing a new active ingredient, there is usually a patent in place that prevents competitors from producing a drug with the same active ingredient. However, when that patent period ends, the active ingredient is up for grabs, and the companies producing the new generic version can afford to give you great pricing, because they didn't spend massive resources developing and marketing the original drug in the first place.