Generic drugs are approved by the FDA as a safe and effective treatment option. There are two types of generic drugs:
Generic equivalents contain the same active ingredients as the brand-name version. They are just as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts. And they usually cost less - in fact, a lot less. So they help drive health care costs down.
Generic alternatives are generic drugs that are approved by the FDA for the exact same use, or for similar uses as a brand-name drug. They aren't considered equivalents because they don't use the same active ingredient, but they treat the same condition, so they give you and your doctor an alternative. For example, there are over three dozen anti-arthritis drugs, over four dozen antibiotics, and hundreds of drugs to treat the various cardiovascular diseases.