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Published: 06/11/2014

Generic Alternatives to Expensive Brand Name Medications

Picture of generic medications

In most all cases, brand-name medications are no more effective than generic drugs, and they can cost hundreds of dollars more every month. Consumer Reports has done many comparison studies on a variety of medications, including medications for diabetes, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and more. In most of their findings, brand name drugs were no safer and no more effective than generic alternatives. For example, among Consumer Reports’ most recommended medications for diabetes were the generic medications metformin and glipizide.

Here we’ll cover a variety of common health conditions and generic alternatives to the brand-name medications that are commonly prescribed to treat them. We’ll also give you a few other pointers on how to save money when you’re shopping for prescription medications.

Depression & Anxiety

The most popular brand-name antidepressants like Cymbalta, Zoloft, Prozac, and Lexapro can cost the average person a large chunk of their income at around $200-$300 for a month’s supply. The same is true for the most popular anxiety medications, Xanax and Klonopin. Luckily, all of these top anxiety and anti-depression medications have generic forms available on the market. You can go from paying as much as $300 a month to as little as $20 a month for your prescriptions when you go generic. You can also save money on top of that by using our discount coupons. For instance, at 75% off, you could get generic Prozac (fluoxetine) for as little as $5 per month. Here’s a list of popular antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications and their generic counterparts:

Brand Name Drug

Generic Equivalent













High Cholesterol

The most commonly prescribed brand-name medications for high cholesterol include Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol and Crestor. All of these drugs are statins. Statins work by inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver by blocking an enzyme that is essential to this process (HMG-CoA reductase). The liver produces around 70% of the body’s cholesterol. By reducing this production rate, statins have been proven effective in reducing overall cholesterol levels. Luckily, most all of the popular statin drugs have a generic alternative available, except for Crestor which is expected to become available in July of 2016. Consumer Reports listed atorvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin as their “best buy” cholesterol drugs, taking into account safety, efficacy and price. Most brand name cholesterol drugs cost between $200 and $300 per month while generics typically cost $40-$50. HelpRx also offers discount coupons for all of these generics. Here is a list of popular cholesterol drugs and their generic alternatives:

Brand Name Drug

Generic Equivalent










expected to go generic in July of 2016

Heartburn, Ulcers & Acid Reflux

The most effective drugs for heartburn, ulcers and acid reflux or GERD are called PPIs, or proton pump inhibitors. The price of most popular brands of PPIs like Nexium and Prilosec can be drastically higher than generic alternatives that are viable replacements. PPIs work by blocking the final phase of gastric acid secretion in the parietal cells of the stomach. By blocking the final stages of acid secretion, PPIs are able to eliminate nearly all traces of stomach acid. Generic omeprazole can cost as little as $40 a month while brand names like Prilosec and Nexium can cost around $300. Check out our list of generic alternatives below. We also offer discount coupons on all of these generic drugs for even more savings.

Brand Name Drug

Generic Equivalent




esomeprazole strontium





Zantac (not a PPI)


Erectile Dysfunction

Medications for erectile dysfunction are among the most outrageously expensive of the common medications. They also have the fewest alternatives. The popular medications Viagra and Cialis cost between $340 and $440 for just 10 pills. Viagra and Cialis are still protected under patent and do not have generic options. All ED medications currently available also work by means of PDE5 inhibitors. One would think that vardenafil would be less effective, but quite the opposite is true. Vardenafil is actually more potent and more selective than sildenafil (Viagra), meaning that it more accurately targets the enzyme (PDE5) involved in relaxing penile smooth muscle tissue.

More Money-Saving Tactics

Not all pharmacies sell the same drugs at the same price. Consumer Reports found a 477% difference between the highest and lowest price of generic drugs in different pharmacies. Finding the cost of a prescription drug in the U.S. can sometimes feel like going on a quest. The same pharmacy may not even sell the same drug at the same price, depending on who’s buying it. The price of your prescription medication will depend on your insurance status, your copay, and what your prescription says. If you want a generic alternative, you need to tell your doctor so that he or she can write it on the prescription. Some pharmacies won’t even tell you the price of a generic unless your prescription permits you to purchase it.

By HelpRx Resources Staff

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About Our Savings: is a discount pharmacy service, partnered with a leading pharmacy benefit manager. We negotiate lower prices on prescription medications, that we pass on to our members for free. There is no cost to use our cards and coupon, and anyone can take advantage of our discounts, regardless of healthcare coverage.

Our savings assurance of “up to 75% off” comes from historical data from actual claims. This data includes savings for both brand name and generic medications.