Generic Birth Control Pills

There are currently a number of different generic birth control pills available. Although these generic pills are sold under what appear to be "brand names," they are indeed generic products. Generic birth control pills are expected to work just as well as their brand-name counterparts, even though they may contain different inactive ingredients, such as dye and fillers.

Are Generic Birth Control Pills Available?

Many (although not all) brand-name birth control pills are also available in generic form. These generic birth control pills may provide significant cost savings, and, in many cases, may be required by your insurance company.
 
(To find out if your birth control pill is available in generic form, see the information for your particular pill in emedtv.com.)

Names of Generic Birth Control Pills

The generic names of birth control pills can be confusing. The generic names are quite long, and several different products can have the same generic name, although they may be completely different, nonequivalent products. As a result, manufacturers of generic birth control pills give their versions a "brand name" to help avoid confusion. For instance, generic Ortho Tri-Cyclen® is sold under the names Tri-Sprintec®, TriNessa®, and Tri-Previfem™. These products are still generics, even though they seem like brand-name products, due to their names.

Are Generic Birth Control Pills as Good as Brand-Name Ones?

All generic medications must have certain tests comparing them to brand-name medications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) then looks at these tests to decide if the generic versions are equivalent to the brand-name medications and assigns a rating to each one. An "AB" rating means that the FDA has determined that a generic medication is equivalent to a brand-name medication. In most states, a pharmacist cannot dispense a generic in place of a brand-name medication, unless the products have been determined to be equivalent, which usually means that the generic has an AB rating. Generic birth control pills are expected to work just as well as their brand-name counterparts.
However, generic medications are allowed to have different inactive ingredients than the brand-name medication. This might include fillers, dyes, or other ingredients, which may cause problems for people with allergies or sensitivities.

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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
Pregnancy and Pain