Prime Minister Modi is onto something when he announced about a new law pushing doctors to prescribe generic drugs. If you ask us, we think it is a wonderful move to making medicines cheaper and more available for most people in the country. You may be aware that generic drugs are rather affordable, but few people know more than that. If nothing else, everyone knows how these drugs are less expensive than their branded counterparts.
You need to know a lot more about generics though, such as what makes it affordable, or what regulations generics need for distribution and other fun facts. Thankfully, you don’t have to go anywhere else to know. Here is a well-researched piece and a quick read rather, to tell you everything you should know about generics.
Generic drugs need to be identical to the branded ones.
Any medicine manufacture needs to meet the standard of quality, strength, safety, performance and other criteria. That’s the only way to get FDA approval. A medicine always has active ingredients and inactive ingredients. Whether it’s a brand name or a generic, if the medicine claims to be equivalent to a branded medicine, then the substitute needs to be a bioequivalent too. The active ingredient of the generics needs to be identical to the brand names. Inactive ingredients such as the color or flavor need not be the same.
They may not look the same though.
Apart from the obvious pricing, the only other difference between the generic and the branded medicines are the inactive ingredients. The inactive ingredients need not be the same in the substitute medicines. These are filler materials such as dyes. They may be of different shapes and sizes too. That’s why generics and branded medicines don’t look the same.
Performance of generics is same as branded medicines.
For generics vs branded, it’s never a question about which medicine performs better. Many perceive that expensive drugs do better, but it is all in the mind. That is only a perceived notion, an incorrect one at that. Generics need to perform exactly the same way as branded medicine. The way it’s administered and the performance characters need to match with branded drugs, only then can generics get the FDA approval for distribution.
Price difference between generic vs. branded is humongous.
Everyone knows generics are rather affordable than branded medicines, but not everyone understands the magnitude of how cheap generics really are. According to the regulations, generics are relatively 80 to 85 percent cheaper than branded medicines. Again, quality has nothing to do with the pricing system of the generics. The active ingredients, the quality, and performance of the substitute has to be the same as the branded medicine.
Generics may have a different time-release formula.
This is another way of saying how fast the drugs get absorbed in the body. Compared to branded medicines, the rate of absorption of a substitute may differ. This is because of the variation in the inactive ingredients. According to the FDA, there is a fair window of variability. Due to this, you may find that a brand works faster or better than its generic. The key here is to not give up after trying just one substitute. Try another and see if that has a better rate of absorption instead of giving up and continuing with expensive branded drugs.
You can be apprehensive of the generics, at some point.
Given that generics have to be identical to the branded medicines, even performance-wise, they work well for the most part. However, FDA recommends branded medicines for special conditions such as thyroid or blood pressure issues. Since there is a small window of variability, branded medicines are recommended for reliability. Also, since the inactive ingredients differ, the color or the flavor or other agents may cause allergy in some people. This is why you need to be careful and closely watch the effects of the medicines if you plan to switch from a branded to generics.
No matter how small the differences may be in the shape or make of the generics vs. branded medicines, it can make a big impact on your finances and your body. Talk to your physician about your prescriptions. Understand which need be branded and which can be substituted. You have a choice, make a wise choice.