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May 8, 1987

Cost and Price of Comparable Branded and Generic Pharmaceuticals

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Francisco, School of Pharmacy

University of California, San Francisco, School of Pharmacy

JAMA. 1987;257(18):2435-2436. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390180053014

To the Editor. —  Pharmacists are used to the occasional attack in newspapers documenting the finding that different drugstores charge varying prices for the same drug, ignoring, of course, all the differential services that might be involved. It was, however, surprising and disappointing to see such findings, embellished by a national survey and statistical analysis, used to attack generic prescribing in The Journal of the American Medical Association.1 Such comparisons in one city are invidious. Across the entire country, they are ridiculous.Let no one be misled by the title; generic drugs are cheaper than their brand name counterparts, as shown in Table 2 of the article. (The median savings to the consumer were $7.50 per hundred for these drugs.) There are differences in prices to the consumer because of competition among drugstores, a concept that is endorsed (at least in principle) by both physicians and the drug industry.