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Do you usually buy the name brand or the generic brand?

Asked at Borders, 700 N.H. on August 3, 2005

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Photo of Laura Francoviglia

“I usually pick the brand name. I really don’t know why because they’re always more expensive.”

Photo of Loma Pongmee

“I usually try to buy whatever is the best. I guess it usually is the brand name.”

Photo of Joe Sweet

“Generic usually. Basically because I’m cheap. Some items I have to buy the name brand though. Like ketchup and macaroni and cheese, stuff like that.”

Photo of Chris Roach

“Name brand. I think it’s just because of the repetition, but when it comes to electronics, I know I won’t have as many problems with it. The generic might be just the same, but it’s a safety issue.”

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GreenEyedBlues 12 years, 8 months ago

I think medicines are the only things I buy that are off-brands. Most times the label, err, ingredients label, of a generic drug is identical to its designer counterpart. Buproprion HCl = Wellbutrin!

Generic soda tastes horrible, not to mention the clever names they use to conjure familiarity with the name brand. "Dr. Thunder" "Mountain Lightning" and "Twist Up" are just funny.

Chris Roach makes me feel funny.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 8 months ago

Always read the labels carefully and then do some homework.

On electronics etc. many big names will manufacture a lower end product for companies who want to be a discount store. Buyer beware and again do some homework.

What good is a product if it doesn't last for 10 years or more? Did you really save money?

Jayhawk226 12 years, 8 months ago

Great timing on this question...

...I'm eating HyVee brand-version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch now!


redbird 12 years, 8 months ago

I go for the generics most of the time,but agreed with GEB on the sodas YUCK,generic sodas suck!!! But when the ingredients and percentage of strength is the same why pay more.And well as said above electronics and large items,no way on generics,they never have much of a warranty and so far from what I've seen with others that have bought these types of items regretted it later.......

enochville 12 years, 8 months ago

Generic medicines and supplements, almost always. As for groceries, we usually buy from Aldi's and Checkers, so generic most of the time. For electronics, I research the products online in consumer reports and buy the most reliable product I can afford. I am also very picky about shoes; they have to fit well and be well made. If they are cheap they don't last long at all on me.

For a summer job, I worked at NCS Pearson helping seniors get their prescription drug discount cards through Medicare. We were instructed to tell the callers that one way they could save money on their prescriptions was by buying generic. The thing I was surprized about was the number of callers who said they had to have the name brand medicine because they could not tolerate the side effects of the generics. (They were not talking about generics of one drug and brand names of a different drug for the same disorder; they were talking about the same drug made by different companies). According to my understanding generic medicines are the exact same thing as the brand name medicines. Therefore, if they were experiencing different side-effects, it would be due to some psychological processes and not due to any real effect of the medicine. The only way the different side effects could be physiological would be if the generic drug contained a different additive or filler. But, fillers are usually inert, right? Is there something I don't know about generic medicines? Are there others on this board that think generic medicines don't behave exactly the same as name brand medicines that contain the same active ingredient?

Jayhawk226 12 years, 8 months ago

Whenever I have sampled over-the-counter generic medications...I have always thought it hits me much harder and makes me dizzy.

The generic version of Ny-Quil, yikes...I think I hibernated through an entire winter once.

I'm glad enochville mentioned generic there a difference, or is this all psychological?

Jayhawk226 12 years, 8 months ago

How do generics differ from their brand-name equivalent?

The main difference between a generic equivalent and its brand drug is the cost of the product.

Generics may contain different inactive ingredients, such as fillers and dyes. Inactive ingredients can give a drug its color and size. Also, a generic drug can have a different shape from its brand-name equivalent. These differences affect how the drug looks and do not affect the effectiveness of the drug. However, a small number of people may react to these inactive ingredients. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about any possible side effects that you may experience.

Even though generics may differ in color, size, or shape, they must contain the same active ingredients as the original brand-name drug. They must also be equivalent in strength and dosage and be expected to produce the same effect in the body as the original brand-name drug.

italianprincess 12 years, 8 months ago

Having no health ins and paying cash when I need to see my doc means I buy mainly generic. My doc knows that generic is cheaper and it does what the name brand does anyway.

There are some things that I do buy that are name brand though. I guess it all depends on what a person can afford.

lunacydetector 12 years, 8 months ago

i buy 2-ply generic toilet paper. i take an empty roll i'd normally discard and, while watching t.v., i separate the full roll and create two rolls of t.p. a pack of 12 double rolls (the equivalent to 24 regular rolls) now becomes a pack of 48 regular rolls! i also take generic laundry softener sheets and cut them into two or three. i double or triple the usefulness of a box of fabric softener sheets. still takes away the cling. you should try it. gotta go for now :)

gccs14r 12 years, 8 months ago

I worked in a packing house in the mid-80s. Generic bacon may come from the same part of the pig as name-brand bacon, but the name brand includes some pretense of meat and usually doesn't have diseased mammary glands in it. If you find gray streaks through your bacon perpendicular to the slices, you probably don't want to eat that part.

Life is too short to eat bad food.

I have read that some people have physiologic reactions to the fillers used in generic medication. I'm always willing to try the generic first, and have yet to have a bad reaction, but you can bet that I'd switch to a different medicine if I reacted badly to the one prescribed.

craigers 12 years, 8 months ago

If I can get by with it, I will purcahse generic, usually the in-house brand at Target. I have to agree with others today about the purchase of electronics, name brand all the way. Generic cereals are good and I think the generic soda isn't bad either. They are just a little bit sweeter and have slightly less carbonation, at least that is what it tastes like to me.
I am sure all of us will keep extreme's recomendation to heart, or should I say to hard?

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

Unlike the other day I agree with jayhawk226. Generic meds seems to not have as good a coating or whatever because they tend to always make me queasy too.
As for the broader question it depends on what it is... I will buy a generic bleach for laundry because hey, bleach is bleach. However, I will not buy generic OREOs or OREO imitators. THere are just no substitutes for some things! Others may come close but they just don't get it.

-"Porsche, There is no substitute."

raven 12 years, 8 months ago

Like most of you I buy certain generic products and certain name brand products. Ultimately, I just buy what I like and what I can afford. I always buy cheap shoes. I will not spend more than $20 on my shoes. I wear them for that season and then if they are ruined I still got my money's worth out of them. Except my tennis shoes, I usually try to keep those a lot longer.

Ceallach 12 years, 8 months ago

With medications I usually try the generic first. There have been some occasions when the generic did not work for me. The fillers and coatings can make a difference, especially for people with digestive system problems, gastritis, acid reflux, etc. I recently had outpatient surgery and the doctor prescribed a pain medication without allowing generic substitution. He explained that this particular drug's generic lacked the coating necessary to reduce stomach irritation. That extra coating also makes a big difference with antibiotics and whether or not a person can tolerate the medication.

Big electronics, I always buy brand names. Food, I often buy generic but have found that some of the generic make up for the lack of quality in the product by substituting obscene amounts of salt. So, food is probably half and half.

omb: Are you picky about your "porsch-ah"s or just about the Meracun pronunciation?

jonas 12 years, 8 months ago

My last doomsday device was an off-label, generic purchace, and it incenerated the third moon of pluto just fine. A successful test, my plot is one step closer to fruition.

rhd99 12 years, 8 months ago

I usually by the brand name because of quality & I generally don't trust generic brands, especially in the medicine category.

mlemiller 12 years, 8 months ago

one_more_bob, it also drives me crazy when words are commonly misprounounced. The one that annoys me the most is "Realtor." Almost everyone pronounces it "real-a-tor" when it should be prounounced "real-tor"... you know, like its spelled.

I also have a radio background. Maybe it makes us pronunciation snobs.

Liberty 12 years, 8 months ago

It depends on what it is. The Target brand of pop called Dr. Spice is pretty close to Dr. Pepper and is good and cheap. The name brand is the best usually, but you can get lucky by trying some of the no name brands. In electronics, only some name brands will last while others don't perform any better than no name brands.

In medicine, usually generic if the contents are the same. I prefer alternate medicines such as oregacyn or Super Silver 10ppm to drug companies. Non-hybrid seed to hybrid seed because the protein and mineral/vitamin content is much greater in non-hybrid seed. Also the seeds will grow another plant the next year where seeds at the store (hybrid, a cross breed of two different types of seed) are only good for 1 year and will not grow another plant from the seed in the next plant. I also avoid genetically modified corn (with grasshopper genes or mouse genes). It just doesn't seem to be as good as what God originally created and I don't like to be their test subject to see what goes wrong after eating junk like that.

bugmenot 12 years, 8 months ago

Sorry to say cellach but your doctor is probably full of you know what. He's been listening to the drug reps too much. Let me guess, the drug was probably Oxycontin since it's generic just came out and some Dr's think there's a difference, they have to pass the test's of being equivalent to each other. Heck they make generic enteric coated medication which is what your Dr. was probably talking about which has the drug release in the intestines instead of the stomach. So the generice med is just as good as the brand, the generics just don't send him as many free lunches as the brand.

ms_canada 12 years, 8 months ago

I also am a pronunciation snob. But I have to restrain myself from correcting people as it does tend to annoy them. It drives me crazy to hear mis-pronunciation. Another thing that annoys me no end is the changing of country names by another country. For example, Spain, why to we call it that? Spaniards/espanoles call their country Espana with an accent on the n, and actually that is not an n In spanish there is an n and the one with the accent is a separate letter called an "enyey". The same is true of the double ll, it is a separate letter called an elyey. Your language lesson is now complete for today, children. Class dismissed. And yes, I buy generic brands all the time unless they are really crappy. Most are good, I find. Why not save money where you can.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

Sorry, bugmenot, but I think Ceallach's doc had a legit concern. Some, actually most, generic meds will mess with most peoples stomachs and such. I once was perscribed an antibiotic in college and it made me queasy every time I took it then the next day....bam. There in the bottom of the toilet evey time was the pill that passed right through and didn't look like my body even tried to digest it. I believe scholar's call it the "peanut/corn" effect. I had to go back and get a new drug, ala Hewy(?) Lewis.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

BTW, I feel like an I-talien sub for lunch.

happyone 12 years, 8 months ago

I buy generic meds all the time, there is no difference that my family can tell. With food some generics are better than others and some food items I refuse to buy generic (picky people pick Peter Pan peanutbutter, and just have to have the tangy zip of Miracle Whip, also baking results suck with generic flour so Gold medal there) On some things generic is even better than name brand. (Malto-Meal frosted shredded wheat for example) But like others have said on electronics and other stuff like that homework needs to be done to get the best for the money.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

Yes, lovely 1, I do want meatbawls with that. However, don't put too many on my I-talien sub or I'll get sleepy and forget to do the "Warsh" later on and then I won't have clean "Drawers" for tomorrow. Commando!

bugmenot 12 years, 8 months ago

Sorry topside, but you forgot to mention that most brand name drugs will also mess with people's stomach's. I think Ceallach's dr truly believed it, but I think they are misinformed. Your generic antibiotic story in college probably would have happened with the brand. Also, some tablets are designed to where the shell is passed into the stool while the ingredients in the center of the tablet is released over time.

lovely1 12 years, 8 months ago

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I fergot about my load in the warsh alllllreddddy. OH NO! wait a minute.. I dunno how ta warsh clothes.. or dri em. JK. have a nice day.

Must be us Kaaaaansass folllk.

linux_chick 12 years, 8 months ago

The one that really bothers me is "irregardless"...

It's not a word, but on top of that, what would it mean: not-without-regard? So, with regard?

Which is opposite of how it's used. It's just: "regardless"

lovely1 12 years, 8 months ago

sorry, if u want meetbawls on your grinder, we can do dat too.

linux_chick 12 years, 8 months ago

Ugh... some of us Kansas "folk" are English majors and will be cringing when they read this board.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

Bugmenot, I guess you mayhave a point. YOu definitely know a lot more about drugs than I do. Share next time. Wow, somebody turn down dueling Banjos, it is deafening!
I had no idea everyone had these huge ig-nant sides of themselves just screaming to get out. I apologize I really opened up a can of worms on that one.

Ceallach 12 years, 8 months ago

omb: Odd! I haven't detected the drawl at all, and I'm pretty good at picking it up. I spend a lot of time is S Texas I often find little "Texisms" slipping into my vocabulary :)

lovely1 12 years, 8 months ago

lol. my gosh, english they not have a sense of humor?

linux_chick 12 years, 8 months ago

My father says irregardless, too.

The other words are at least sensical: Irregular = not regular Regardless = without regard

So, what would "irregardless" mean?

Here's an example with in a sentence: Irregardless of what he says, I'll still park where I want.

linux_chick 12 years, 8 months ago

lovely, I have a chip on my shoulder I catch crap for studying English and Computer Science at KU from my aunt (who sent her children to Harvard) living in Boston.

She thinks we're all farmers here incapable of a proper education and is disappointed that I'm still here.

linux_chick 12 years, 8 months ago

cough maybe the English major should learn how to use a period at the end of her sentences. ;)

lovely1 12 years, 8 months ago

Sorry linux, i did not mean to offend you. Hopefully your aunt does not read the LJW. Just having some fun on this sun shiny Wednesday mornin'. JK I will not start with the improper English again. HAVE A NICE DAY everyone. :)

linux_chick 12 years, 8 months ago

I wasn't offended, lovely. Don't worry :)

I don't mind "text-speak" as long as it's consistent so I can read it. Irregardless doesn't make sense no matter which way you slice it.

Janet Lowther 12 years, 8 months ago

While I don't much care for it, since it seems to be a double negative, irregardless is in my Webster's New Collegiate Dictonary. Just because it isn't in your spell checker doesn't make it a non-word.

Regardless of what those of us who have studied logic may think, people who use double negatives use them to intensify the negation.

The word that most annoys me is "orientated." You go to an orientation to become oriented! While I would gleefully declare it non-word, it's in the dictionary.

In commodity products I usually buy generics.

Especially in desktop computers: Try to replace a power supply in a three (or even one) year old name brand computer: You'll find them unavailable. On a generic, you unplug and unscrew the old one and plug in and screw on the new one and it's a perfect fit. You won't do that with a Hewlett Packard or Dell. I've seen too many otherwise fine PCs tossed because of custom engineered unique parts that were used for only one model.

In pharmaceuticals, my mother uses one medication that her Dr. insists on her using the name brand - a difference in solubility, or so he says.

rhd99 12 years, 8 months ago

Look all, sorry about the confusion earlier. In regard to today's question about generic or brand name, I really don't see the benefits of the generic brand when the real name brands sell extremely well despite their prices on any given day. To me, the generic brands miss something. What that is, I don't know.

craigers 12 years, 8 months ago

Some of the most recent generics lack product recognition and reputation. If people don't know they are good, the likelihood of them trying those products is low. Generally speakin' they have the same ingredients in them.

ms_canada 12 years, 8 months ago

Oh I say, we Brits drive our motors with the bonnet in front and the boot in back very nicely but we are a little intimidated by all the large lorries that pass us by on the left hand.

acg 12 years, 8 months ago

I think I go half and half with generic and name brand goods. Everyone who said it is right, some things just have to be named brand, like cheese must be kraft and aluminum foil must by Reynolds. But I've found a lot of generic products that are the same if not better than name brand. We love the off brand pop tart. What are those things called? And in the bag cocoa puffs.

Words I can't stand to have mispronounced in my presence or the vein in my head starts to bulge: ax instead of ask, realtor/real-a-tor and the worst is supposably. It's not even a freaking word! The word is supposedly people! Jeez. And turning nouns into verbs: a new way to office, a better way to internet. Had some chick ask me recently if "I journaled". WTF is that?

Ceallach 12 years, 8 months ago

bugmenot: I understand your reference to drug reps, one of my daughters is a nurse and worked for an internal medicine group in Arlington for several years. The reps line up to bring lunch for the entire staff.

The medication prescribed for me was Lortab, I don't believe it is in the oxycodone family, and it was not very expensive so I went brand name.

GreenEyedBlues 12 years, 8 months ago

I'm no English major, but I do greatly appreciate the dwindling population of Kansans who know how to properly use the ENGLISH language.

"Irregardless", "Nu-Q-lar" and "Porsch-" belong in the Amurrican language.

People always rave about "If'n ya cain't speak muh language, then git outta muh country! Talk Amurrican! Yar yar yar!"

"Anyway" is NOT plural. It's "Greenwich" not Green Witch. "Abercrombie" not Ambercrombie.

And those super dense gals at work that add "-en" to past tenses: "boughten".

I dated this guy [very briefly, I might add] that used the word "Nazi-istic". He said it in public and I slapped my forehead and said, "Is that two I's?".

lizbet 12 years, 8 months ago

More on words and grammar - Good isn't an adverb. I can't stand it when people say good instead of well: "He played good." That's just not right!

Ceallach 12 years, 8 months ago

Bowhunter99: I think going to Mizzou would be rougher on my stomach than any generic drug :)

Ceallach 12 years, 8 months ago

To show you how misunderstandings can occur -- as I read ms_canada's paragraph and I was scrolling too fast -- scroller had a seizure of some sort and the next thing I read was the last paragraph of acg's post -- needless to say I was shocked and could not imagine what someone had slipped into ms_canada's tea :):) I was preparing a stunned note to her when I realized the problem. There are just some things you don't expect in life -- seeing ms_canada ask WTF? about any given topic is one of them!

ms_canada 12 years, 8 months ago

you bet they do, so they simply call in at the lorry stops. And if they are hungry they can stock up on crisps, a soda or a meal of Bangers and Mash or Cottage Pie or Steak and Kidney Pie or Cornish Pasties. Yumm and for dessert they can have Spotted Dick. Ymm Just asl we what that is.

ms_canada 12 years, 8 months ago

you bet they do, so they simply call in at the lorry stops. And if they are hungry they can stock up on crisps, a soda or a meal of Bangers and Mash or Cottage Pie or Steak and Kidney Pie or Cornish Pasties. Yumm and for dessert they can have Spotted Dick. Ymm Just ask we what that is.

Shelby 12 years, 8 months ago

I had steak & kidney pie in Vancouver last fall at this old hotel and it was incredible! Let the organ meats never go out of culinary style!

I think spotted dick is some type of cake with golden raisins and some syrupy stuff on it. They should call it "VD P.P. Dripping With Goo".

ms_canada 12 years, 8 months ago

I will refrain from commenting on that, except to say, wrong recipe there, em And the correct pronunciation of Cornish Pasties. Not paste- ies it is past ees.

Ceallach 12 years, 8 months ago

Those long, cold winters in Canada seem to produce some very interesting menu choices :)

extreme_makeover: I agree with you on the Equate products -- I buy them whenever possible.

ms_canada 12 years, 8 months ago

Yes Tom - there are raisins in the pudding. That is where the names comes from. Ah oui madame - pret a manger - fast food. They do do some pretty good far eastern dishes. Big on indian take-away. Chicken vindaloo is a big favourite. Another good dessert is Treacle Tart.. I wonder how they ever came up with the peculiar names for their food. It is anyone's guess what Melton Mowbry is or Toad in the Hole or Crowdy Cream. But the funniest of all is Stargazy Pie. Anyone know what that is? Come on take a guess.

ms_canada 12 years, 8 months ago

Bob gets the prize! whoopie. All true and for you pronunciation snobs Mousehole is the most charming little village on the south west coast of Cornwall and the residents pronounce the name Mouzzle. It is 20 minutes by bus from Land's End. and as for you e-m you did not give a very good recipe for Spotted Dick, so you get the booby prize. And you can't have any pudding. So there.

Ceallach 12 years, 8 months ago

Where is Fangorn today? Or did I miss his post?

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