What are Generic Medicines, and why should one Buy Generic Medicines

Admin | 08 Mar 2021
What are Generic Medicines, and why should one Buy Generic Medicines

The pharmaceutical industry is worth around $934.8 billion and is said to reach to about $1170 billion by 2021, growing at a rate of 5.8 per cent, according to a recent pharma research report by The Business Research Company. There are many expensive medicines available in the market which may sometime cost a fortune. But there exist a special genre of medicines that is relatively cheaper but equally effective, known as Generic Medicines.

A generic medicine may be defined as a pharmaceutical medicine consisting of an identical chemical substance to that of a medicine that had been originally protected by a chemical patent. Generic medicines are allowed for sale after the patents on the original medicines expire. A generic medicine is the same as a brand-name medicine in dosage, safety, effectiveness, strength, stability and quality, as well as the way it is taken and the way it should be used.

A generic medicine also has the same active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) as the original, but it may differ in some characteristics or the other such as the manufacturing process, formulation, excipients, colour, taste and packaging. In most cases, generic products become available after the patent protections, afforded to a medicine’s original developer, expire. Once the generic medicine enters the market, the market forces of demand and supply often transpire to substantially lower prices for both the original brand name product and its generic equivalent. Since the generic medicines have similar characteristics with the branded medicines, they help to demonstrate bioequivalence, which means that if you buy generic medicine it will work in the same way and provides the same clinical benefits as its brand name version.

In other words, you can buy generic medicine and take it as an equal substitute for its brand name counterpart. This substitution effect essentially makes the generic medicine cheaper in the market. Since they perform as good as its modelled brand-name brand, people tend to buy generic medicines more. However, it is important to note that there will always be a slight but not medically important level of natural variability- just as there is for one batch of brand-name medicine compared with the next batch of brand name product.

This variability can and does occur during manufacturing for both brand-name and generic medicines. When a medicine, generic or branded, is mass-produced, very small variations in purity, size, strength and other parameters are permitted FDA limits how much variability is acceptable.

Popularity Issue?
People usually think twice before they buy generic medicine online. Generic medications are just as effective as brand-name medicines. According to the FDA, medicine makers must prove that generic medications can be substituted for brand-name medicines and often the same benefits as their brand-name counterparts. In other words, in many cases, you can swap a generic medicine for a brand-name one and get the same effect – unlike those generic Frosted Flakes! Also, people can be susceptible to not being able to differentiate between two medicines.

There is a solution available for that as well. Due to trademark laws, generic and brand-name medications cannot look the same. In many cases, the name of the generic medicine will be the same as the active ingredient. The generic and branded version of the medicine may differ in various terms; such as; shape, colour, packaging, flavourings, inactive ingredients etc. This, however, does not translate to the fact that the generic medicines are any less effective.

Generic medicines are usually launched after a substantial period with respect to the main medicine because new medicines and products are usually protected by patents and prohibit others from making and selling copies of the same medicine. Generic medicines also tend to be less costly than their Brand-name counterparts because generic medicine applicants do not have to repeat animal and clinical studies that were required in the launch of the generic medicine so as to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.

Also, many generic companies are often approved for marketing a single product; this creates competition in the marketplace, typically resulting in lower prices.
Research has seen that almost 80% of prescription medicine sales can be considered under generics. If people buy generic medicine can help patients and hospitals to save billions of dollars every year. One can save at least two-thirds of the medical costs if they buy generic medicines.

Generic medicines, as mentioned, above tend to have the same effectiveness and dosage with respect to the branded medicine. Scepticism definitely persists in the minds of the people if they should buy generic medicines because they are often substantially cheaper than the brand name versions. This makes people susceptible to doubts about the credibility and efficiency of the medicine as they feel that the quality and effectiveness might be compromised to make the products.

For example, for popular branded medicines like Crocin and Calpol, their generic name is Paracetamol. Actually, the generic medicines are only cheaper because the manufacturers have not had the expenses of developing and marketing of a new medicine. When a company brings new medicine in the market, the firm has already spent substantial money on research, development, marketing and promotion of the medicine or medicine.

Also, for developing a formula of a branded medicine, it requires ample amount of investments for research and development. In order to get the investments back, they will charge more within that patent time. Once the patent is over, anyone can produce that medicine with the same formula. So the cost of that medicine includes all costs incurred to develop the medicine and benefits of the manufacture. When it comes to generic medicines, all that R&D costs will not be there. Hence they have the leverage of pricing the products at much lower rates as compared to the branded medicines and charge low prices from the customers.

Various government initiatives have also contributed to the popularity of generic medicines. For a country like India, generic medicines are a boon. Government is popularizing generic medicines because most people who cant afford expensive medicines or are incapable of paying the bills of expensive private hospitals, they can resort to this pocket-friendly treatment to recover from their illnesses as there are more than 70% of the Indian population living in the rural areas, out of which 35% is either Below Poverty Line, or close to it, Generic medicines can be a means of pervasive treatment. Another reason for the use of generic medicines is to reduce the unethical practices of doctors who deliberately prescribe branded medicines over generic medicines.

Despite all these endeavours, Generic medicine has failed to gain substantial popularity among people. As most people are driven by the "brand name" concept of a product, whether it may be clothes, cosmetics, accessories, including grocery, durables or medicines, generic medicines falter to become a consumers first preference. Certain brands of medicines have a powerful impact on peoples minds that both the medicine and the brand have become synonymous. Hence, people are reluctant to shift to any other brand, no matter how cheap or effective medicine is. Again adding up to the economic phenomenon of lower demand with respect to supply, hence lower prices.

Another reason is the lack of awareness about generic medicines. There persists a sense of anonymity and oblivion among people regards such medicines. Even there is a certain section of the population who feels that because these medicines are comparatively cheaper, they may be inferior in quality. Chemists give medicines that are written on the prescription, and in most cases, doctors dont prescribe generic medicines. It can be arguably concluded that generic medicines have failed to garner the trust of its consumers, and thereby fewer medicines are bought from this genre. This, in turn, leads to lower demand for such medicines leading to lower prices.

One has to understand that several branded medicines for treating lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, etc. are highly expensive, and physicians usually prescribe branded products. Therefore in order to advocate the use of cheaper generic substitutes popular in the country, physicians support is the most important factors. Medical practitioners and doctors should prescribe more and more generic medicines to the patients so that consumer trust is built around the genre of generic medicines.

Many developed countries are also promoting generic products these days. In India, with such a huge population coming under Below Poverty Line, it is all the more important that people buy generic medicines. Thus generic medicines can be proven to be an effective way to reduce medical costs by substituting expensive branded medicines with the same.

Generic medicines have the ability to change the market forces of the pharmaceutical industry. Since they are cheap and equally effective, such medicines can be a pocket-friendly option for the poor and impoverished, who find it difficult to treat their dear ones because of the high process of the branded medicines. The onus is on the doctors and medical practitioners to promote people to buy generic medicines, and make the customers aware of the same, so that demand for such medicines increases.