Health care is really expensive. Despite the fact that I am a full time physician, I am constantly amazed at how expensive things are -- medications, hospital stays, tests, treatments, and many more. One way to reduce medical expenses is to use generic medications.
Generic medications are the same active ingredients without the added cost of the name brand medication. In general, they work just as well. If you want to read more details, Wikipedia has a good article about generics here. Occasionally, we run into issues with patients not responding as well, but this is quite rare.
A few things come to mind:
1. If the price is the same and it works the same, the only reason to buy the name brand liquid medication may be the taste. Although many generics taste just fine, often the name brand liquid medications for fever, cough and cold, and allergies, the name brands sometimes taste significantly better. The Teller twins still fondly talk about the blue raspberry Advil. So if your child is struggling with the taste of a liquid generic, I would try the name brand.
2. We have generally found no issue with generic creams, lotions, or gels not working as well as the name brand. For steroid creams (for eczema, poison ivy, and other rashes), acne medications, and anti-fungal creams for yeast infections (ringworm, athlete's foot, and jock itch), we have found that we have had generics work as well as the name brand. I would recommend saving some money and buying the generics if they are available.
My dream would be for me to be able to look up the costs of different medication options and tell the family: "This medication would be free at your pharmacy, this one $4, and the other $40. All of them will work well -- which one would you prefer." Sadly, the pharmaceutical companies and the pharmacies will never let us have that information (unless there is a major uproar from consumers) as they would lose money if we consistently went with the cheapest medicine that was going to work. Just in my practice, families would save thousands and thousands of dollars every year having this information. Maybe one day...
So to summarize: we certainly encourage you to use generic medications when they work for your child and you save some money in the process.