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Why pay more? - Generic versus branded medicines.

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‘You get what you pay for'. Aphrase we are constantly reminded of and personally one that I am a believerof, but does this phrase hold true when deciding between generic versus brandedmedicines?  

Generic or non-proprietarymedicines are not patented, whereas proprietary medicines are patented and aregiven brand names by the manufacturer.  Asan example, Ibuprofen is the generic name and Nurofen is one example of a brand name.  The difference? Most generic medicines arecheaper than brand named medicines, since costs associated with clinical trialsand researches after patent expiration are avoided. However, some argue that priceis not the only difference.

There are concerns regarding theequivalence of generic and proprietary medicines. It has been accepted that bothgeneric and proprietary versions contain the same drug or active ingredient. Inthe US, the generic drugs approval process involves proving its bioequivalenceto the branded drug (medicine).

Bioequivalence tests on genericmedicines ensure that they contain the same drug or active ingredient at thesame strength and are similar in bioavailability to the branded drugs(medicines). In the UK, similar controls ensure that the generic version meetsthe set standards and is safe and effective.

On the other hand, there are a fewexceptions where proprietary medicines are more ‘effective' than the genericand can't always be substituted. This applies to medicines prescribed for conditionssuch as Parkinson's disease and may possibly explain why when a proprietarymedicine is prescribed; the non-proprietary version cannot be dispensed.Although both proprietary and generic medicines have the same active ingredient,the ‘inactive' ingredients may differ, hence affecting bioavailability.

Most of the time genericmedicines are cost-effective and time saving. The former most certainly applieswhen buying over the counter; however there are a few exceptions where genericsubstitutions aren't always possible.

Useful links:

http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Generic-vs-Brand-Name-Medicines.htm

http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1003.aspx?CategoryID=73&SubCategoryID=108

 

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