American patients are increasingly being prescribed generic versions of brand name drugs. These prescriptions tend to cost less than name brands even though they are supposed to be identical medications. Essentially, after a period of time, drug manufacturers are required to release their exclusive rights to produce any given drug. Then, other manufacturers compete in the open market for patients who are prescribed generics. This free market competition leads to lower prices and wider availability of generic medications.
It would seem that this system of generic drug competition is a win-win for patients and insurance companies. The cost of the drugs is lower even though patients are receiving quality medication. Unfortunately, generics are increasingly being classified as potentially dangerous products because many have been found to be defective, placebos or otherwise dangerous in ways that brand name drugs tend not to be.