What Are Generic Drugs: All the ins And outs
What Is The Difference between Brand Name And Generic Drugs?
Speaking of some kind of medicine, such as the pills you recently took against a headache after a hangover, most of us mean a certain brand name – in this case, Aspirin. And if your friend took Ecotrin to solve the same problem, and his girlfriend took acetylsalicylic acid, you already think that these are three completely different drugs. Meanwhile, they all represent acetylsalicylic acid, just different companies produce it under different names and sell at different prices.
This brings us to the topic of generics. It is likely that you were faced with the fact that the desired medicine was not available in the pharmacy, and you were offered its analogue. Typically, people are suspicious about such medicines, moreover, they are cheaper than well-known ones. However, these suspicions are groundless, because by the nature of their action and the active substance, each generic is identical to its prototype.
Are Generic Drugs Safe?
However, people tend to worry about whether such medicines are safe for health, so we will have to expand this topic more widely. The safety of generic drugs has been proven by numerous clinical studies. Most of these drugs are approved by official organizations operating in the field of implementation of the pharmacological legislation of a country. It’s another matter that in the country the resident of which you are, one generic medicine may be popular or approved, and in another it may be different. For example, in the USA it is easy to buy branded Viagra manufactured by the American company Pfizer or its Israeli generic drugs, while in Canada, in addition to the branded medicine, the Canadian generic Viagra is approved for use. Of course, the Canadian version of this medicine is also suitable for American patients.
In the US, generic drugs are tested by FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which issues the certification of approval of use and distribution to certain medicines. However, pharmacy policy of the USA doesn’t allow many reliable and quality drugs to enter the national market, that’s why customers are forced to order them abroad.
Why is it still believed that branded drug substitutes can be dangerous? The fact is that many confuse generics and fakes. High-quality generics are produced by official pharmaceutical companies and sold in pharmacies, while counterfeits can be made by fictitious legal entities or even just individuals and distributed in stores of a dubious nature, as well as privately. In order to avoid buying useless or unsafe drugs, you need to buy any medications only in trusted pharmacies, and this applies both to offline and online ones.
Why Are Generic Drugs Cheaper?
As a rule, generics are cheaper than their branded prototypes. This cannot but rejoice, but for those who are interested in why things are developing in this way, it will be useful to know why this is so. The reason is that the manufacturer of the initial drug doesn’t just produce it, he is its creator (inventor), he synthesizes its active substance, conducts expensive clinical trials, assesses the risks and positive aspects of the use of a particular drug formula, finally conducts an advertising campaign, develops outwardly attractive packaging. All this costs a lot of money, so the price of branded medicines can be more than high for a common customer. At the same time, the manufacturer of generics lives with “all expenses paid”: he doesn’t need to actively advertise his product, the drug formula is already ready for use – all that remains is to change the auxiliary components a little, and even this is not obligatory. All studies have already been carried out, it remains only to sell the medicine and make a profit. This is the secret to the price attractiveness of analog drugs for end users. Generic drugs can be not only 10-20% cheaper than their prototypes, their cost can be even two, three or more times lower. In addition, usually the price of generics is reduced when you buy a large number of units of goods (tablets, vials, etc.).
When Can Generic Drugs Be Produced?
Until a certain time, the right to manufacture a medicine with a specific active substance is reserved only for the inventor – the patent holder, the manufacturer of the branded drug. Patent protection lasts an average of 15 to 25 years, though this term may be different in different countries. During this period, the patent holder holds unique rights to the medicine, and other companies are not entitled to copy this drug formula. After the patent protection expires, any other pharmaceutical companies, including foreign ones, may release their versions of the same medicine, but exclusively under different names. The manufacturers of the generic medication are responsible for the choice of the names of their drugs, and usually they try to display in the title either the active substance or part of the name of the original drug. It can be observed in the example of Silagra, which is a generic of Viagra.
Some companies produce both branded medicines themselves and their generics. It also happens that the manufacturer of the initial medicine, at the end of the patent protection period, authorizes the release of the generic drug by a certain company with which a cooperation agreement is concluded. In particular, giant corporations Pfizer and Eli Lilly resort to such strategies sometimes.
Where Can I Buy Generic Drugs?
This question is often asked by those who are first faced with the need or desire to purchase generics. However, these are ordinary drugs, not some prohibited substances, so there is no need to look for complicated ways to acquire them. Like branded drugs, their counterparts can be bought at regular or online pharmacies. Over the past few years, there has been an intense increase in the popularity of online pharmacies, from local urban to international ones, which make it easier for customers around the world to access affordable and quality medicines. Especially popular are Indian online pharmacies that deliver cheap analogues of branded medicines to dozens of countries. Moreover, in most cases, the cost of delivery is comparable to the usual courier delivery within a small city. If you are going to buy generic drugs in India, pay attention to special websites listing and comparing the most top-ranked Internet pharmacies of this country, as they may help you to make the best choice in this market.
Never buy any medicine anywhere except in official pharmacies. A pharmacy (all the same, real or online) must have a license number, the validity of which must be indicated in the public domain. If you have doubts about the integrity of the pharmacy, check what user reviews it has, whether it is in the “black lists” of scammers, request registration and license information on the feedback form. If nobody gets in touch with you, don’t make a purchase in this place.
What about Medicare?
In 2019, Medicare part D provides an average of $33.19 monthly for any medications, no matter whether they are generic or branded ones. However, you are able to select from four plans (copay tiers), which are “Generic”, “Preferred”, “Non-preferred” and “Specialty”. Despite the fact that the third and fourth plans seem to be the most profitable, often the most rational solution is to choose the first or second plan. At the same time, it is important to consider your individual characteristics: do you have chronic diseases, and if so, how do you usually treat them, how often in life have you had to resort to expensive treatment with branded preparations. Discuss all options with your healthcare provider and bear in mind that using generics can provide you with a significant reduction in the cost of your medical insurance. “Generic” plan should seem most interesting if you belong to those people who are bothered mainly only by some kind of chronic disease that has been successfully treating with generics for some time, such as bronchial asthma or erectile dysfunction.
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