Original and Generic Medicine. What You Need to Know

Original and Generic Medicine. What You Need to Know

Do you worry that generic meds aren’t as good as the brand-name versions?

When you visit your local pharmacist to get your prescriptions, you may be asked if you want a generic version of the medicine. Your assumption (and you’re not alone on this one) is that generic medicine doesn’t meet the same manufacturing standards as the original. You also worry about their effectiveness and if they are as safe as their more expensive branded counterparts.

See, from experience, we assume that cheap means the product in question is of a lower quality. Anything from clothes, electronics to utensils. In the medicine world, things are a bit different. Medicine goes through a rigorous manufacturing process to ensure its safety and regulatory bodies are put in place to ensure quality is not compromised.

So, when it comes to the active ingredient, generic meds and the original meds are exactly the same.

Dr. William Mwatu, a BONGODAWA app lead consultant, further explains that though there may be stark differences like price, color or size, the fact of the matter is that both generic and brand name meds have identical active ingredients. The term ‘active ingredient’ simply means the ingredient or the chemical substance that makes the medicine work.

Understanding that is what makes all the difference.

So, what are generic meds?

Generic medicine is a copy of a branded medicine. It is chemically equivalent to its branded counterpart but usually costs less. Generic meds must meet the same standards of quality, safety and efficacy as branded meds. Some generic meds may look different to their branded equivalent because they may have different inactive ingredients like coloring starches, sugar and flavorings but the active ingredient used is exactly the same; with the same dosage as the branded version.

But, why the huge cost difference?

Generic medicines cost less than brand-name medicines because the manufacturers have not spent money on either research and development of the medicine, or buying the rights to sell it.

And, are they safe?

In terms of safety, both generic and brand-name medicine facilities must meet the same standards of manufacturing practices. It’s also important to note that there are people who might be allergic to the inactive ingredients, such as color or preservatives. In this case, we advise that you read the consumer medication information leaflet before consumption or talk to your doctor.

What to consider when offered a generic medicine?

Generic medicine will cost you less than the original and will have the same effect as the original.
You may choose not to switch to avoid confusion, especially if you take several different medicines.
If you have allergies, you may also want to check whether or not the generic medicine contains something you are allergic to.

Important note: Always consult your doctor if you are unsure of something.

This article is an adaptation of Tanya Fong piece which appeared on www.choice.com which was last updated on 21st July 2014


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