National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Ask the Psychiatric Pharmacist
written by: Dean Najarian, Pharm.D., BCPP
Why do psychiatric medications cost so much?
First it is important to understand the difference between receiving a “Brand” or “Trade name” product versus a “generic” form of a medication. A “Brand” name medication has a patent that allows the manufacturer exclusive rights to sell the medication for a certain number of years. “Brand” name drugs cost more because the pharmaceutical company discovering the drug is attempting to recover the hundreds of millions of dollars it took to do the research to make sure the drug is safe and effective. Other costs involved with brand-name medications include manufacturing, distributing, and advertising. When the patent time for a brand-name medication runs out other manufacturers are allowed to make and sell “Generic” versions of the same drug. The active ingredient(s) of "Generic" medications are identical to the “Brand” ingredient(s) though the tablet or capsule may look slightly different in color, shape, etc., and generally is less costly. Check with your practitioner or pharmacist to discuss potential alternatives before starting or stopping medications.
NAMI Wishes to thank the College of Psychiatric and Neurological Pharmacists for their participation in writing our medication fact sheets and for writing our "Ask the Psychiatric Pharmacist" questions and answers.