A few months ago, I was in Pittsburgh with my girlfriend when both of us succumbed to seasonal allergies and needed some Claritin, badly. The CVS was nearby so I ran in and bought a box of Claritin-D at around $1.20 a pill (a decent drugstore price for Claritin-D). When you’re knocked down by seasonal allergies, $1.20 a day for relief seems like a bargain. What exactly did I buy? Claritin-D is an antihistamine combined with a decongestant into a single fat horse pill (it’s huge!). The antihistamine is 10mg of Loratadine and the decongestant is 240mg of Pseudoephedrine Sulfate. Did you know you could buy 60 pills of 10mg Loratadine, generic, for only $17 from Drugstore.com (30 cents a piece)? The Pseudoephedrine is just Sudafed and a mere fifty cents a pop practically anywhere. Add that together and it’s still only 80 cents total. Therefore, you’re paying a 50% premium for the Claritin-D name!
It’s easy to find out the ingredients of over-the-counter drugs, they’re, by law, required to list everything on the box. That makes it easy to find the components. Under the watchful eye of the FDA, Loratadine will always be the same thing and 10mg of it will always have the same effect on you no matter who is supplying it. So with respect to that, a generic version is 100% identical to branded version, except cheaper! Schering-Plough’s Claritin is no better than buying the antihistamine and decongestant apart. (if you really like Claritin, at least go to the website  and print out a $3 coupon)
Some would argue that sometimes how a manufacturer mixes and binds the ingredients together could make a difference, which sometimes can be the case. With Claritin, it’s merely an antihistamine and a decongestant rolled into one pill – I doubt the mixing technique has made either more effective than if I took them alone.
The moral of this story is: Next time you go into a drugstore, check the label of ingredients and just buy the generics. Don’t pay $1.20 for three quarters and a nickel.