Understanding generic medicine

 

Generic-DrugsA gentleman I met recently thought that generic drugs were the same as spurious drugs. I was shocked and explained what generic drugs meant. Thought I should put down the explanation here for the benefit of others who may be thinking along similar lines.

A pharmaceutical company makes a medicine after years of research. It then files for a patent and sells the medicine under a brand name. During the period that the patent is valid, no other company can manufacture the same product. Obviously during this time, the cost of the medicine will be high as the company has to recoup all its expenses.

However, the patents issued are valid only for 20 years or so. After the expiry of patent, any other pharmaceutical company can take up the manufacture of the same medicine and sell it under a different name. This product is now called a generic equivalent of the original medicine.

In essence, Generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs that have exactly the same dosage, intended use, effects, side effects, route of administration, risks, safety, and strength as the original drug. In other words, their pharmacological effects are exactly the same as those of their brand-name counterparts.

Generic drugs can be and usually are very much cheaper than their brand-name counterparts because the generic drug manufacturer has not put in any money on R&D, clinical trials, FDA approval, etc. which usually form the bulk of the cost. Their only costs include the cost of the ingredients that go into the medicine and the manufacturing and packaging costs, which are usually only a small fraction of the overall costs.

Spurious medicines, on the other hand, are fake products manufactured by illegal companies which look like the regular products but contain none of the original ingredients.

I hope now you are clear about the actual meaning of generic medicine.

Now why aren’t the generic drugs much cheaper than they are? Well, they should be, but market forces prevent them from being sold at that rate.

Another question you may have is why Doctors don’t prescribe generic drugs to you. Well, the pharmaceutical companies that hold the patents incentivize the Doctors to prescribe their drugs and hence the Doctors do so. On your part, you can always go to the pharmacy and ask for a generic equivalent and take that with full confidence.

Do you know generic drugs can be up to 80% cheaper than their brand-named counterparts!?
When more and more people become knowledgeable about generics, hopefully the market will wake up and start making generics more affordable. Just imagine, your medical bills could quite easily be halved!

 

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