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What are generics?
Generics are medicines that have proved bioequivalence and therapeutic interchangeability with the original drug, with the similar content, which has the patent protection expired. Generic medicines are priced at a much lower rate; however, they do not differ from original drugs in efficiency and safety. They are produced in accordance with regulations and quality standards.
The use of generics has a great medical and social meaning as it makes quality medical treatment accessible to a wide range of social groups. For example, in USA, more than 60% of the medicines prescribed consist of generics. These similar statistics can also be seen in Western European countries such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The extensive use of generics allows countries to spend their national budget (allocated for health care purposes) in a more reasonable way. Hence, it allows these countries to build in a financial allocation for more expensive medicines, treatments and service. Therefore, price-based competition of generic medicine manufacturers encourages innovative companies to create brand new medicines and treatments.
Generics and innovator drugs: the general and the particular
The difference between generics and innovative drugs has always caused misunderstanding amongst buyers. Many people consider generics to be less efficient, however, this isn’t true. Generics have the same quality, efficiency and safety characteristics as the original drugs. 50% of original drug manufacturers produce generics. Frequently, they produce duplicates of their own drugs but sell them under international unpatented names that match an active substance of the medicine. Generics and original drugs differ only in price and form.
Why generics, not original drugs?
Generics are cheaper. Generics are much cheaper than original drugs as their manufacturers don’t bear the capital costs for the development, research and marketing. Moreover, tough competition amongst other generics companies leads to the lower price regulation.
Generics are as effective as original drugs. Contemporary high quality generics have the same quality, efficiency and safety characteristics as original drugs. 50% manufacturers of original drugs produce generics. To obtain the permission to sell generics in a certain country, manufacturers should provide all the relevant info about bioequivalence of the generic drug in comparison to the original drug. This means that generics should contain the same ingredients and be as effective as original drugs.
Generic manufacturers invest from 6% to 16% of their income into scientific research in order to provide quality, safety and efficiency of their goods. As far as generics are produced, in accordance to strict conformity to regulations, they are as safe and effective as original drugs but cheaper.
Are generics as effective as original drugs?
Generics contain the same active ingredients which mean that they have the same dosage as original drugs. They are therapeutic equivalents of brand original drugs. This means that generics have the same effect on the body and have the same advantages and disadvantages as the original drugs. Generic versions of the same medicine don’t differ in safety or clinical treatment. National Health Systems have special reviewing services and departments responsible for quality, safety and efficiency of innovator drugs and generic drugs within a certain country.
Why generics cost less?
People always ask why generics cost less. The price difference makes the potential customer think that it’s a fake or counterfeit product. However, the reason is different. Due the research, development and promotion of original drugs by original manufacturer is the reason of the high cost in these brands. During patent protection, the company developer has an exclusive right for promotion and sale of its original drug. Furthermore, the high price and absence of competitors mean that these companies have an opportunity to make compensation for the research and promotional expenses. These expenses do not apply to generic manufacturers which is why the significant savings are obvious. Additionally, the lower price for generics is determined by market rivalry: more companies who produce generics mean that the price is significantly lower.
Therefore, when you see your doctor or pharmacist, it is important to ask if they can advise you a generic medicine to replace you original drug. By asking for the prescription of a generic medicine, you can save money and will not lose anything in the level of quality.
Why generics look different?
Generics can differ in content of non-active ingredients. This can have an effect on the colour, shape, size and even taste. However, these are only external differences that do not have any influence on the active ingredients and the effect and the extent of exposure on the body.
May side effects of generic and original drug differ?
Yes but rarely. Generics and original drugs can contain non-active ingredients such as preservatives, fragrance and colour additives. When you intend to take a new medicine and when you change the medicine from one manufacturer to another, you are recommended to study the leaflet contained in the package and see the doctor.