Generic Vs Brand Name Drugs – What’s The Difference?

There has been a lot of debate about brand names vs. generic names. The main confusion fuelling this discussion is a misconception that people have about the generic drugs being ineffective or inferior. Lack of a clear understanding of the distinguishing factors between the two drugs is what gets people even more confused. From a medical perspective, there is no big difference between the two. In this article, we are going to demystify some of the myths surrounding the generic and brand name drugs.

What Are Brand Names?

Brand-Name DrugsA brand name drug is a medicine that has been discovered, developed and marketed by a pharmaceutical company. It is usually a new drug that has been invented by a certain company. In the interest of safeguarding their invention, the company files are immediate patented against other competing companies from making copies and selling the same drugs. In Australia, the patent period is 20 years for some drugs.  During this period, only the owner is allowed to produce and supply to the drug market. At this point, the drug is available in two names: a brand name that is used in marketing the product and the generic name that’s the drug’s common scientific name. A good example is the pain reliever Tylenol. Tylenol is the brand name while its generic name is acetaminophen.

What Are The Generic Drugs?

A generic drug is bioequivalent or copies to a brand name. It has the same active ingredients as the brand name drug, and it’s intended for the same use, strength, safety, dosage and effectiveness. They are only available after the expiry of the patent period.  For the generic drug to be approved it must meet the similar quality standard as the brand name drug – this includes the manufacturing, packaging and testing of the product. A generic drug may either be produced by the same company or another company. It may come in different brand names, but it must use the generic name of the brand name drug. A good example is the Tylenol. It’s available in different brand names such as Tactinal, Vitapap, Medi-Tabs, and Mapap but all of them have acetaminophen as the ‘generic’ name.

How Different Are Generic And Brand Name Drugs?

Since the two drugs have the same ingredients, the differences are very rare. In fact, it’s very hard to notice the few differences. Here are main differences that you can easily identify:

    They look different- For the generic drugs to differentiate apart from the brand name drugs, they come in different looks. This may include the size, markings, shape and colour. You will also find them in various names.

    Different inactive ingredients – drugs can be formulated with both active and inactive ingredients. For a drug to be generic, it must have same active ingredients as the original drug but can add inactive ingredients of their choice such as dyes.

    Generic drugs vary in manufacturer- you could receive different versions of generic drugs from different manufacturers. It also worth noting that each manufacturer will come with their brand name to distinguish themselves from the rest,

    Cost. This is the main difference between the two drugs. Generic drugs can cost anywhere between 20 and 80 per cent less than the brand name drugs. This is one area that confuses most of the patients confused and the reason why they think it could be ineffective.

Why Do Generic Cost Less?

Generic DrugsThe costs of the two drugs have been the main reason why people think that generics are ineffective. In fact that they can cost 20% to 90% less, most of them believe that they are fake or low-quality copies. But this is not the truth. The reason why brand name drugs cost more is their level of investment. It takes several years, many clinical studies and costly scientific development to get the drug approved. This cost is transferred to the drug thus making it extremely expensive. It’s one of the reasons why they are patented for about 20 years so as for the pharmaceutical company to recover its investment. The fact that there is no competition somehow contributes to the high pricing.

In contrast, generic drugs’ manufacturer makes use of the original manufacturer data. All they do not develop the formula for the drug and all they is the ingredients.  Their cost for the production is of the drug is very small and this will also affect their pricing. These saving are passed on to the consuming, and that’s what makes the drug cheap.

Are Generics As Effective As the Brand Names?

Yes, it’s 100% effective. From the information provided above, there is no doubt that the generics are as good as the brand name drugs. They have the same active ingredients, dosage form, strength, same safety & efficacy and route of administration. It is a good as the original versions. Patients should not fear or doubt its effectiveness.

How to Tell That You Are Getting the Right Medication at the Pharmacy

Checking Medication LabelsChecking your medication before use is critical. It is possible to be given the wrong medication by mistake. For the generic and brand medication, you need check the labels and confirm the dose and the name of prescription. It is important to note that generic forms of a brand name should have the same name (generic name) always. If that’s not the case, you’ve the wrong medication. If you are prescribed to a generic drug, make sure that you have checked the label to ascertain if it’s the same drug. If you had been using generic prescription, it’s always advisable to ask the pharmacist to refill your generic prescription to reduce confusion.

How Possible Is It Switch Back And Forth?

Switching medication is a common practice in the medical field. But this depends on individual patient’s response to these changes. If you have been using brand name prescription, you can switch to generic without any problem. But note that you might have mild symptoms after switching. Therefore, it’s important to talk with your doctor so that he can assess the risks and rewards of switching.

Making an Informed Choice

Sometimes, it might be necessary to switch the medication for the patient’s convenience. Choosing between brand name and the generic version should be informed by various factors. Here are things that the patient and the doctor should consider:

    The difficulty of controlling the patient medical control

    Sensitivity to changes in medicine

    Difficulty in paying for the medication

These are three factors that should inform whether to switch or not. The doctor should assess each of them critically for the safety and convenience of the patient.

These are the facts about brand name drugs and generic drugs. There is no difference between when it comes to treating medical conditions since they’ve similar active ingredients. It is only that one is a copy of the other. The generic drug works in the same way and in the same amount of time as the original version. They are the best choice of prescription for patients’ with financial constraints. The only thing that you must ensure is that they share the same generic name as the brand name drug. This is one of the best ways to stay safe.

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