Brand-name products inevitably cost more. Are they worth the extra money?

Woman looking in medicine cabinet
Credit: Greg Clarke
  • Perhaps the best example of a minimal performance difference despite a massive price discrepancy is the case of over-the-counter generic medications versus brand-name versions. To wit: You can get 150 200-milligram Advil tablets for about $11 or 500 tablets of Walgreens-brand ibuprofen for $13. The difference between the two? Not much.
  • "A generic is the same in dosage, safety, strength, quality, and performance as a brand name," says a U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokesperson based in Silver Spring, Maryland. And that goes for prescription medications. The generic may look or taste a little different (federal law prohibits duplicating every last detail), but the medicine works in your body just as the brand name would. In fact, according to the FDA, about 50 percent of generic drugs are manufactured by the brand-name companies.
  • What’s the difference between acetaminophen and ibuprofen? See A Glossary of Medicine Cabinet Must-Haves.