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Is There a Generic Equivalent to My Brand Name Drug? Find out with FDA OB Express

Have you ever taken your prescription to the pharmacy, the one that you fill regularly, and the pharmacist hands you pills that have a different name and look quite different from what you regularly get? As a chemist by training, I try to curb my initial anxiety by checking out the composition. However, I have always looked for reassurance from the pharmacist that he/she has dispensed an equivalent generic drug at the direction of my doctor.

Logo for the Federal Drug Administration's Orange Book Express app

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is required to publish reference material on Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, commonly known as the Orange Book (OB). Pharmacists are probably the typical and predominant users of the Orange Book. The Orange Book has been in publication for the past 35 years and has many purposes, including promoting the use of generic drugs, listing the patents of various drugs and annotating when the patents run out.

Now technology has made it possible for you and me to have an instantaneous answer to the question: “What are the generic equivalents to my brand name drug?” FDA very recently released a mobile app called Orange Book Express, or OB Express. The app is free to download and is available for the iOS and Android platforms.

Screen capture of the home menu screen from the Federal Drug Administration's Orange Book Express app (Android).
The app’s home screen allows users to search by:

  • Active Ingredient
  • Proprietary Name
  • Patent Number
  • Patent Applicant Holder
  • Application Number.

The search results are listed in three different tabs:

  1. Prescription
  2. Over-the-counter
  3. Discontinued products.

Each list item links to the patent and exclusivity information.

There are built-in links on the app home page that take you to lists of Newly Added Patents, Patent Delistings and FDA’s Orange Book website. Whether you are in the newly-added patent listing or delisted patents list, the app gives you contextual information about the list and additional information. For example, if you’re looking at the newly-added patents list, it provides you additional information about the latency, before the information is available in the Orange Book, after it’s registered.

The help and support links allow you to email questions directly from the app. The contact list stored on your phone is available for your use, if needed. The app also allows you to read FDA privacy and security policies.

So, the next time you visit the pharmacy, check out the generics for your brand name drugs with this app and perhaps save some money. I know I will.

You can download this and other government apps through the USA.gov Federal Mobile Apps Directory. Do you have a federal app that is not listed on the Directory? Take part in the Great Federal Mobile Product Hunt.

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