Common Prescription Drugs with Generic Alternatives

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A look at some of the most commonly used medications that have less expensive generic alternatives.


Keeping down prescription costs

If you've recently been prescribed a medication, you may be daunted by the costs of some of these drugs. But take heart — many of the most commonly used prescription medications have generic formulas, and this can mean big savings to you.



Zocor is one of the most widely used medications in the world, prescribed to millions to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease.

If you've been prescribed Zocor, your doctor may allow your pharmacist to give you the generic formula of this drug, known as simvastatin.



Coumadin is designed to keep blood clots from forming, or to keep them from growing larger in the blood or blood vessels. It is given to people who have suffered a heart attack, who have deep vein thrombosis, who have been diagnosed with certain types of irregular heartbeat, and to those with some types of mechanical heart valves.

Coumadin is available a generic formula known as warfarin.



Ventolin, a medication given to people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is perhaps better known by the name of its generic formula, albuterol.

This drug is in a bronchodilator and works by relaxing and opening airways so that users can breathe more easily.



Paxil is widely prescribed to treat such mental health conditions as depression, panic attacks, and social anxiety disorder.

This popular antidepressant is available in a less expensive generic formula, paroxetine, available in both tablet and liquid forms.


Glucophage, glumetza

Glucophage (also marketed as Glumetza, Fortamet, and Riomet) is used either alone or in conjunction with other medications to treat people with Type 2 diabetes. It works by helping to control the amount of glucose or sugar in the blood.

This drug is probably better known by its generic name, metformin.



Vicodin is an opioid painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain. It relieves pain by changing the way the nervous system and the brain actually respond to pain.

The generic formula of Vicodin is hydrocodone. It is available only in combination with other ingredients and comes in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms. Some formulas of hydrocodone are used to treat cough as well.



Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication that's prescribed to treat a number of anxiety-related disorders, including panic attacks. Xanex works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.

If you're prescribed Xanex for anxiety, you may be given alprazolam, the drug's generic equivalent.