Generic drugs: The right choice

You can help control your health care costs by asking your physician to prescribe generic drugs when they are available and appropriate.

Pharmaceutical costs are increasing faster than any other part of health care. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey cited pharmaceutical cost increases as a primary reason health insurance premiums increased 11% in one year. Generic equivalent drugs provide the medication you need at the same level of quality, strength and purity.

Ask your doctor

When you have a prescription to be filled, you may have a choice between filling it with a brand-name drug or a generic drug. You can save money by asking for generic drugs.

Ask your physician to prescribe generic medications when they are available and ask him/her to indicate on the prescription that substitution is permitted.

Questions you may want to ask your doctor or pharmacist when discussing your medication(s):

  • Which of my medications are available in a generic form?
  • Are there any risks (side effects or reactions) if I change to a generic medication?
  • Can I substitute my drug with the generic?
  • How much will I save under my prescription plan if I switch?
  • Does this generic look different than my brand-name medicine?

And you save money because generic drugs cost 30% to 80% less than the equivalent brand-name product. A few examples:

Med type

Brand name

Generic name

Savings *

Blood pressure Zestril Lisinopril 66%
Diabetes Glucophage Metformin 55%
Asthma Proventil MDI Albuterol 64%
Cholesterol Mevacor Lovastatin 75%
Diuretic Lasix Furosemide 26%
Arthritis Relafen Nabumetone 53%
Thyroid Synthroid Levothyroxine 58%
Depression Paxil Paroxetine 55%
Blood thinner Coumadin Warfarin 49%
Pain Vicodin Hydrocodone 55%

*Based on cost savings as of 3/1/2005