Skip to content

Generic Drugs Versus Brand-Name: What’s the Difference?

Is There A Difference In Quality?

Health Canada reviews and approves all drugs (brand-name and generic) before they can be sold in Canada.

Health Canada mandates that a generic drug is designed to work the same way in the body as the original brand-name drug.

Further, Health Canada requires that both brandname and generic drug companies follow the same rules for the manufacturing process and for ensuring the quality of their ingredients.

Are The Ingredients Different?

Health Canada also mandates that generic drugs have the same active ingredient (the chemical that makes the drug work) and that they work the same way in the body as the brand-name drug. Generic drugs must also have the same amount of active ingredient in the prescription.

Health Canada even regulates the non-medicinal ingredients, such as fillers and preservatives, for both brand-name and generic drugs and they are subject to the same approval process.

Will The Results Be the Same?

When a generic drug is approved by Health Canada that means the medicine is as safe and as effective as the original brand-name drug and they will work the same way.

1 Million Everyday – Everyday in Canada, approximately one-million prescriptions are filled using generic drugs.2/3 – Two thirds of all prescriptions in Canada are filled with generic drugs.

Is Price The Only Difference?

The only difference between a generic and a brand-name drug is the price. Generic drugs are used to fill more than 66% of all prescriptions in Canada, but they account for only 23.5% of the $22.2-billion dollars Canadians spend annually on prescription drugs.

Why Is Cost Important?

It is important to remember that you and your employer pay for the cost of your prescription drug benefits. Your employer is not required to offer you a health benefit plan. They do so in order to attract and retain the best employees and to keep you and your family healthy and at work. Rising drug costs are putting pressure on all employers’ ability to continue to offer these important drug benefit programs.

Generic drugs cost much less than brand-name drugs and will lead to an affordable and sustainable drug plan for you and your family. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a generic equivalent available for your prescription needs.

For more information regarding the quality, safety and efficacy of generic drugs, please visit the Canadian Agency for Drug Technologies in Health (CADTH) website. CADTH is an independent agency funded by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments.