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Are There Benefits to Generic Medicine?

Are There Benefits to Generic Medicine?
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 6 min read

Being able to take a pill and lose weight is very enticing. With the introduction of orlistat, doctors were able to legally provide you this option through a prescription medication.

While this medication alone will not make you lose weight, it does assist you with weight loss by blocking fat absorption in your intestines. It can be a game-changer if you have a lot of weight to lose.

The downside to the brand name of orlistat, Xenical, is that it can be costly. You must take a pill with every meal because it only works to block fat for a couple of hours. If you have budget limits, you may wonder if orlistat generic is just as good as the name brand Xenical.

Generic Drugs Explained

When a company produces a medication, it has a patent on it for a certain amount of time. The patent allows the manufacturer to get all the benefits of the earning potential of the medication in the beginning to recoup the money it spent to develop the drug. Patent protection is a way to keep this industry fair.

The FDA explains that when the patent expires, other companies can then make the drug and sell it. These drugs get the label "generic." Orlistat generic would be this version of Xenical.

Other Benefits of Generic Orlistat and Other Medications

The main benefit of allowing generic medication on the market is to consumers. The bottom line is it keeps drug costs from getting too high.

The FDA explains having generic and brand name versions of a drug help to keep the pharmaceutical market competitive. It can help regulate pricing and ensure medication remain affordable for consumers because the name brand now has to compete for sales with the generic makers.

In addition, since generic drug makers do not have the high overhead that the original manufacturer had in developing the drug, they can sell their generic drug for much cheaper than the name brand version. This can result in significant savings for you when you need to buy orlistat generic or other generic medications. The FDA estimates generic drugs cost up to 85% less.

Not only does this savings directly help you but also it impacts the insurance industry. Insurers pay out less for prescriptions when you buy generic. This can help insurers save money, which will eventually help you by ensuring rates do not go up.

Generic vs Name Brand

For most products that you buy, the term "generic" has a negative connotation. You may expect them to be of lesser quality. They may have ingredients that are not as good as the name brand. You expect something to not be quite the same when comparing generic and name brand items.

When it comes to generic medication, things are a little different. The FDA mandates that generic drugs work the same as brand name drugs. They must offer the same dose and effectiveness. They have to be as stable and strong as the name brand. Quality is also of high importance.

Most of the time, people cannot tell the difference in the effects of brand name medications and generic medications. So, you could expect that orlistat generic, for example, will give you the same results as using Xenical.


It is important to note that there are always variances in medications from manufacturer to manufacturer. Drugs made by the same manufacturer can differ from batch to batch. So, you may hear of a negative experience with orlistat generic, but that is likely due to these naturally occurring variances and not because the drug is not effective or is worse than the name brand.

The FDA allows minor variances in absorption and other details of drugs between generic and brand name medications. However, each person is different. Some people find they cannot use a generic version of a medication because it does not work for them like the brand name, so it is a process of finding out if it will work for you.

You should know that generic drugs will look different from the brand name. Every drug must look different because it helps with identification. In addition, generic drugs cannot copy the look of the brand name due to trademark protection laws.

For your safety, when you first get the generic version of a medication, you should double-check that it is the correct prescription. After that, you should be able to see if it is the same. This will just help to ensure you get the right drug and there wasn't a mistake made with your prescription.

Side Effects

You may also wonder about side effect differences between brand names and generics. Side effects tend to be the same because the effective ingredients are the same. However, some generic medications may have inactive ingredient differences that could cause you to react differently to them than you do the brand name version.

The FDA does monitor side effect reports from users of generic drugs just as it does with brand name medications. It does not complete clinical studies on the drugs. As long as the generic drug meets all requirements it gains approval based on the clinical studies and other information the FDA has on the brand name drug.

Buying Generic Drugs

You can usually choose to get the generic version of a medication when your doctor puts in your prescription. He or she may ask you or your pharmacist may ask you if you would like the generic version.

The choice is usually up to you, but in some cases, your doctor may OK the generic version automatically as a cost-saving measure. If you receive state-funded medical insurance, your insurer will usually insist you use generic drugs when they are available. Some other private insurers may do the same thing since the savings can be significant.

You should note that not all drugs have generic versions. In some cases, the patent on the name brand is still active and nobody else can develop a generic version. In other cases, there hasn't been another company to yet design a generic option.

Also, be aware that buying generic medications from outside the U.S. that are not FDA-approved within the U.S. can be risky. It may also be illegal in some cases. You should be careful about buying any medication that does not have FDA-approval because this approval helps to ensure it is safe to use and will work the way the label claims.

The Bottom Line

If you have the opportunity to buy orlistat generic over the name brand, Xenical, you could save a lot of money and get the same benefits. While there is no current generic option on the market in the U.S., there is likely to be eventually, giving you the chance to try it out.

Remember, though, sometimes generics may not work exactly the same as the brand name due to variances. So, if you do begin the generic version, you should be alert for signs of side effects, allergic reactions and indications that the medication is not working as it should.

In short, though, generic medications can be just as good as the brand name drugs. They save you money, while also helping to keep the overall costs of prescription medications affordable for everyone.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.