Generic vs. Brand Drugs in Psychiatry


An Overview of

Generic vs. Brand Drugs in Psychiatry

The field of psychiatry has been growing rapidly in medicine. In the last decade, due to recent innovations there has been a sharp increase in the availability of psychiatric medications. In this material, we will address some of the common misconceptions about generic medications, and help you to understand the difference between a generic drug and a brand drug. 


By definition, a “Brand” drug is one developed by a pharmaceutical company that holds exclusive manufacturing rights to sell the drug for a certain number of years. The cost of a brand drug is usually higher because the pharmaceutical company has to include the cost of research and development as well as other costs involved in manufacturing, distributing, and advertising the drug.

A “Generic” drug is a drug that is reproduced by other companies after the patent time for a brand-name medication runs out. The active ingredient(s) of “Generic” medications are identical to the “Brand” ingredient(s) and is generally less costly.


A generic drug has the same active ingredients as a brand drug. The safety, strength, quality, and mechanism of action are all the same. The cost of a generic drug is usually low because they are not developing a new drug from scratch that involves expensive research and clinical studies. Generic brands also may not need to spend on costly advertising, marketing, and promotions.

Safety Concerns

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible to ensure that both brand and generic drugs have the same high quality, strength, purity, and stability. FDA approved generic drugs must meet the same rigid standards as the original drugs (Brand Drugs). The Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee is a branch of the FDA, which focuses on human drugs. This committee reviews and evaluates data concerning the safety and effectiveness of marketed and investigational drugs for use in the practice of psychiatry and related fields. After their evaluation, they may make further recommendations to the FDA.

Prevalence of Generic Drugs

Despite the availability of new-generation psychiatric medications, old-generation generic psychiatric medications are still popular among psychiatrists. Psychiatric treatment can be a long-term process and therefore, it is important to take cost of medication into consideration in order to receive valuable care. Choosing generic medications over brand medications is one of the most popular cost-effective methods. Nearly 8 in 10 prescriptions that are filled in the United States favor generic drugs. Therefore talk to your physician in order to come up with a cost effective treatment plan.


  • Understanding Generic Drugs. – Accessed March 27, 2013.
  • Questions & Answers  Generic Drugs Questions and Answers. – Accessed March 27, 2013. 
  • NAMI  Why do psychiatric medications cost so much. – Accessed March 27, 2013.