Understanding generic medication

Posted 8 March 2019

A common question you may be familiar with hearing in the pharmacy is “would you like the cheaper brand?”. There are a few different ways this question can be phrased, such as “the alternative brand” or “the pharmacist preferred brand” or “the generic brand”.   

But are there any differences between the brands of medication available? And if there are differences, should you be concerned?

What is a generic brand?

Originally, when a pharmaceutical company develops a new medication it is granted a patent for a specified period of time. This means no other company can manufacture and sell a product with the same ingredient.

Therefore, we come to be familiar with a particular brand name for a medication since it is the only one available for some time. However, once the patent expires, other companies can develop their own brands of the medication. These are known as generic brands.

Are generic medications different to the brand name medications?

Generic brands contain the same active ingredient and dose as the original manufacturer. They might have a different shape, size, or colour to the original.

In Australia, generic brands can only be sold if they meet the same strict standards of quality, safety and effectiveness as was required for the original brand.This is tightly regulated by the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration and applies to both prescription and over-the-counter medicines. 

Do I save money by using generics in place of brands?

So why are generics cheaper? The main reason is because manufacturers of generic brands have not had to spend money on initial development and research of the medication, or the buying rights to sell it. 

Therefore, generic brands can pass these savings on to us, the people who need the medication!

 

Our pharmacists can help with any questions you may have when switching brands. If you have allergies, it is worth checking that the alternative brand is suitable for you.

At the end of the day, you can be confident that the generic brand will have the same effect as the original, at a price that will often save you money.

Speak with your local pharmacist at Alliance Pharmacy if you have more questions.