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May 8, 1987

Cost and Price of Comparable Branded and Generic Pharmaceuticals-Reply

JAMA. 1987;257(18):2437-2438. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390180053018

In Reply.—  The letters directed at our recent article stated that we doubted the "savings" attributable to generic drugs. This is simply false, as a careful reading of our article shows. Put bluntly, and as clearly as we can, our study is consistent with the view that generics are cheaper on the average than branded drugs but are not always cheaper. If consumers always ask for the generic, they will save money compared with what they would spend if they always asked for the branded drug. However, in an important minority of instances (nearly 40% of the prescriptions), the branded drug was less expensive than the generic. So, if saving the most money possible is desired, then the consumer should ask for the least expensive drug, irrespective of whether it is a generic or branded drug. The wide variation in prices within and between pharmacies for the same prescription means