AJMC Article Explores Reducing the Confusion Between Branded and Generic Drugs

A commentary in this month's issue of The American Journal of Managed Care explores whether allowing generic versions of medications to look like branded equivalents would be better for consumers and improve adherence.

AJMC Article Explores Reducing the Confusion Between Branded and Generic Drugs


PLAINSBORO, N.J. — The expression, “What’s in a name?” means plenty in the world of pharmaceuticals, where consumers who become accustomed to taking a branded drug may balk when a pharmacist substitutes a lower-priced generic version, even though the 2 are chemically the same.

It’s one of many factors that contribute to poor medication adherence, one of the greatest challenges in managed care. Consumers who don’t understand what “bioequivalence” means may think the strange name, and different color or shape of their pill means they have been given a completely new drug—and they refuse to take it.

In a commentary appearing in the November issue of The American Journal of Managed Care, author Alfred B. Engelberg, JD, writes that state laws have made substitutions commonplace, so much so that it might make sense to enhance the experience for consumers by at least allowing pills to keep the same color and shape of the original. For a full version of the commentary, click here.

“State laws requiring or permitting substitution of a lower-cost generic medicine would be unaffected,” he writes. “Insurance companies would be free to continue to limit reimbursement for brand name products when an FDA-approved bioequivalent generic version of the medicine is available.

“But patients would have much greater certainty that they were getting the right medication regardless of its source and more clarity about the source of the medicine.”

About the Journal

The American Journal of Managed Care, now in its 20th year of publication, is the leading peer-reviewed journal dedicated to issues in managed care. Other titles are The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, which provides pharmacy and formulary decision makers with information to improve the efficiency and health outcomes in managing pharmaceutical care. In December 2013, AJMC introduced The American Journal of Accountable Care, which publishes research and commentary devoted to understanding changes to the healthcare system due to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. AJMC’s news publications, the Evidence-Based series, bring together stakeholder views from payers, providers, policymakers and pharmaceutical leaders in oncology and diabetes management. To order reprints of articles appearing in AJMC publications, please call (609) 716-7777, x 131.

CONTACT: Mary Caffrey (609) 716-7777 x 144