Drug Manufacturers 101: How to Pick the Best Fit for You

Most people know that there is a difference between brand-name and generic medications. However, did you know that there are also differences among generics of the same drug? That’s because one generic medication can actually have multiple manufacturers.

Unfortunately, most pharmacies only stock one manufacturer, and the manufacturer often changes depending on which one is covered by insurance companies and other middlemen at any given time. If you’ve been getting your medications at a traditional pharmacy–such as your local chain store–you may have noticed that the color, size, or shape of the pill sometimes changes between refills. You also may have noticed that you feel differently because of these changes. 

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many people find that a certain manufacturer works best for their body. Now, at Honeybee, you have the ability to consistently choose the right manufacturer for you, month after month. 

Below, we’ve created a guide to help you choose. On our new website, choices are organized based on price,  pharmacists’ pick, inactive ingredients, and manufacturer information (including history and main location). No one manufacturer is better than the other. All of them manufacture safe and effective medications. It is simply a matter of finding the best fit for your body. 

#1: Price

If price is your main concern, pick whichever option is the most affordable. A price is listed for each manufacturer of each drug so that you can easily compare prices. All of these prices are often lower out-of-pocket than a traditional copay if you bought the medications through insurance. At Honeybee we cut out all of the middlemen (insurance companies included) and buy directly from FDA-approved wholesalers and manufacturers. This means we can provide you with the lowest price possible. 

You can also save even more by switching to a 90-day supply of your medication (read the blog post here).

#2: Pharmacist’s Pick

We’ve labeled some manufacturers as a “Pharmacist’s Pick.” This label is based on a combination of factors: 

  • Most requested by customers
  • How long the manufacturer has been making the drug
  • The general reputation of the manufacturer, including recalls, transparency about their manufacturing locations, and so on. 

This doesn’t mean it is definitely the right choice for you, as different manufacturers work differently for different people. However, it is a good place to start if you are not sure how else to choose. 

#3: Inactive Ingredients

Medications contain two main types of ingredients: active ingredients and inactive ingredients. The active ingredients are the chemical substances that work to treat your medical condition. For example, in the  medication hydroxychloroquine (the generic form of the drug Plaquenil), the active ingredient is hydroxychloroquine sulfate. Pro tip: the generic name of the medication usually corresponds to the active ingredient. 

Inactive ingredients, also known as “excipients,” are components added to a drug during the manufacturing process to serve various functions. For example, inactive ingredients can act as binding agents, dyes, preservatives, and flavoring ingredients. They do not have any therapeutic effect, which means that they do not directly treat your condition. That is the responsibility of the active ingredient. 

This active ingredient stays the same no matter which manufacturer you buy hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) from. By contrast, inactive ingredients change between manufacturers. For example, there are different manufacturers of hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)–three of which are listed below with their specific inactive ingredients.

Plaquenil Inactive Ingredient Examples

*This information is subject to change depending on what manufacturers are available for a medication at any given time. 

You might make a decision about which manufacturer to buy from based on inactive ingredients if you have a personal preference. Someone might avoid a manufacturer that uses gelatin because it is an animal product. Or, someone might want to avoid gluten because they are highly allergic.

It is important to keep in mind that even if some of these ingredients can be allergens, they are such small doses that not everyone with that allergy reacts to the inactive ingredient. It depends on your body’s level of sensitivity. 

You may sometimes find that all the manufacturers include a certain inactive ingredient (i.e. in the above graph, three of the manufacturers include dye). If you don’t see an option that works for you, please reach out to a Honeybee Health pharmacist and they will help you. 

#4: Manufacturer Information

The U.S. FDA reviews manufacturers who want to sell drugs in the U.S. market. At Honeybee Health we only buy from wholesale distributors who sell FDA-approved medications. For that reason, we stand by the quality of all our manufacturers. 

However, if you have a personal preference for a certain manufacturer based on name, you can now choose that specific manufacturer when ordering your medication on our website. In addition to the manufacturer name, we have also listed some other biographical information about the manufacturer, including: 

  • Year founded
  • Headquarter location 
  • Number of manufacturing sites if disclosed
  • Overview of manufacturing sites’ locations of manufacturing sites if disclosed 

It’s important to note that all manufacturers operate through a global supply chain; either they have facilities in different countries or certain parts of a given drug are purchased from other manufacturers in different countries. For instance, a manufacturer may be based in the U.S., but no medication is finalized without overseas help. But there are very good manufacturers all around the world, including in Israel, India, China, Canada, Germany, and countless other countries. While the globalized nature of drug manufacturing can be confusing, we have included all of the information we have on our website because we believe customers deserve

transparency and the right to choose.

If you still have questions about how to choose the right manufacturer for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the Honeybee Health pharmacists or support team for help. 

Jessica Nouhavandi