What are Active Ingredients in Medications?

Image of someone with their daily medicine container

Prescription medication costs are prohibitive for many Americans. Even with private health insurance or Medicare, some Americans still can’t afford the copayments and out-of-pocket costs for many prescription drugs. As people age, they need more medications to treat a wide range of chronic illnesses. Older Americans, on average, take 4.5 brand-name prescription drugs daily to relieve diverse chronic health conditions.

Brand-name prescription medication costs are out of control in the United States. The prices of brand-name drugs have increased by 60 percent since 2014 and continue to rise twice the national inflation rate, making them unaffordable for many Americans. 

Choosing non-brand medications with identical active ingredients to the original drug can significantly reduce your healthcare costs while delivering the same therapeutic benefits. Let’s review the benefits of opting for generics for your budget below.


What are Active Ingredients in Pharmaceuticals?

An active ingredient in pharmaceutical products is a substance that has a direct effect on preventing, mitigating, or treating a disorder in the body. 

The active ingredient is what makes a medicine work to relieve a specific health condition. Along with delivering therapeutic benefits, active ingredients are also responsible for a medicine’s side effects. A medication’s dosage specifies how much active pharmaceutical ingredient the medicine has.

There are two types of active pharmaceutical ingredients: chemical synthetic drugs and natural chemical substances. 

  • Chemical synthetic drugs ⎼ like ibuprofen ⎼ are artificial ingredients produced in a laboratory. 
  • Natural chemical substances, on the other hand, are derived from nature. Examples of natural active ingredients include antibiotics which are produced during microbial fermentation.


Active vs. Inactive Ingredients

Along with active ingredients, medications also have inactive ingredients. While active ingredients are what make a drug effective, inactive ingredients have no medicinal effect. Inactive ingredients, also called excipients, are used as a medium to deliver the active ingredients and change the substance’s taste and color. 

Examples of inactive ingredients used in medications include coloring agents, sweeteners, preservatives, and other fillers.


The Difference Between Active Ingredient and Brand Name

Many people confuse a medicine’s brand name with its active ingredients. As we discussed above, active ingredients are what make the drug work while the brand name is a trade name given to the medicine by the manufacturer. It is common for people to look for a brand name instead of the active pharmaceutical ingredient when searching for medications. 

So, as a common example, let’s look at a cholesterol-lowering drug, Lipitor. Lipitor is a brand name, not an active ingredient. If you want to lower your LDL cholesterol and want more options, look for the active ingredient in Lipitor, which is atorvastatin calcium

Unfortunately, when given generic medication with the same type of active pharmaceutical ingredient but a different brand name, many customers may skip over it because they think it’s the wrong medicine.


What are Generic Medications?

Person holding a few generic brand medications in their hand

Generic medications are pharmaceutical products with the same therapeutic components as the original, brand-name drug. These medications have identical active pharmaceutical ingredients to the brand-name one, but often have different formulations, fillers, color, taste, and packaging. But since the active ingredients are what make a medicine effective, these drugs deliver the same clinical benefits and side effects as the brand-name medication.

Generic drugs have the same amount and type of active ingredient to the brand-name medication, making them identical in:

  • Safety and risks
  • Dosage and strength
  • Route of administration
  • Quality and effectiveness
  • Performance characteristics

A generic medication is allowed to be manufactured only after the patent on the original, brand-name drug expires. A patent is a legal title that gives the original drug developer exclusive rights to sell the medicine for a period of time. When the patent expires, other drug manufacturers can produce the medicine with the same type of active pharmaceutical ingredient and sell it to the public.


Manufacturing Generic Medications

To produce generic medications, licensed drug manufacturers must comply with the same international pharmaceutical safety standards as brand-name companies. In the United States, generic drug manufacturing is regulated by the FDA. The FDA analyzes what active ingredients are used in the medication before allowing it to be marketed and sold as a generic equivalent to a popular drug.

In other countries around the world, regulated drug manufacturers must adhere to stringent safety protocols established by the World Health Organization (WHO) to produce generic medications. This means whether your generic drug was produced in India or Germany, WHO regulators examine what active ingredients are used in the medicine to approve it for sale in the local and international markets.


How to Find Generic Medication

Generic medications have the same active pharmaceutical ingredients as the original drug, helping your health condition without the exorbitant cost of branded medicines. Generic medicines produced by licensed manufacturers are safe, effective, and cost 85 percent less than their brand-name counterparts. 

Inhouse Pharmacy offers quality generic medications from government-regulated manufacturers around the world. You can buy authentic generic medications from Inhouse Pharmacy with a few clicks and have the medicine shipped to your door. 

Below, we’ll provide a simple how-to-guide for buying generic medicine from our online pharmacy.


We’ll use Ventolin, a brand-name drug for treating bronchospasms, as an example:

  1. To buy generic Ventolin, find what its active ingredients are. You can find the drug’s active ingredient online or in the patient information leaflet.
  2. After a quick research, you should have found that Ventolin’s active pharmaceutical ingredient is salbutamol.
  3. Now go to our website’s homepage. At the top of the page, you should see a search bar. In the search bar, type the medication’s active ingredient: “salbutamol”
  4. You’ll be directed to another page that shows dozens of generic medications with the same type of active pharmaceutical ingredient as Ventolin.
  5. Click on the generic medicine you want and place your order.


Buy Affordable Generic Medications From Inhouse Pharmacy

Now that you’ve learned what active ingredients are, you know that generic medications are almost identical to brand-name ones, but cost significantly less. You should always try to buy generic medication if available to live a healthier life more affordably. 

If you need quality generic medications from reputable drug manufacturers around the world, Inhouse Pharmacy can help. Contact us to consult with a registered pharmacist or use the guide above to place an order on our website.

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