LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Americans are spending too much money on brand name prescription drugs when generic versions will essentially do the same job, according to a new study.

Consumer Reports’ Lisa Gill tells KNX 1070 that people could save a lot of money by opting for the generic drugs — and possibly even limit the health risks involved with higher-end medicines.

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Gill says drug companies have used sophisticated marketing campaigns to condition consumers to ask for the brand names.

Physicians can also provide better guidance by informing patients of the cheaper alternative, Gill adds, though close ties between health care providers and pharmaceutical firms may sometimes inhibit doctors from doing so.

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For example, users of Lipator, which costs about $112 a month, could get the same treatment from lovastatin for roughly $4 a month.

Also, the popular pain reliever ibuprofen, which costs just a few dollars, is as effective as Celebrex at $139 a month.

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