As a patient, you will get medications prescribed from time to time for many different reasons. Whether it’s meds for gastritis or that famous little blue pill to make date night magical, you now have a choice. You can opt for household name brands that come with a trusted reputation but also a hefty price tag, or you can ask your doctor to prescribe you a generic. Perhaps your doctor has already prescribed you a generic, and while you appreciate the smaller bill, you still have questions.
What is a Generic Drug?
Generics are drugs that have the same active ingredient as a reference drug and can replace them, as well as similar ones. The difference is that they do not have a brand and should cost, by law, 35% less than the reference. On the packaging of the generic medicine, there is a yellow stripe containing the letter “G,” with the words “Generic Medication.” As this type of drug has no brand, the consumer has access only to the terminology of the active ingredient.
Generics are generally produced after the expiration or waiver of patent protection, or Anvisa does other exclusive rights and approval of marketing. These drugs are also approved in Anvisa’s quality tests, compared to the reference medicine.
Origin of the Expression “Generic Medicine”
The generic medicine acquires its name from the medicinal substance that composes it, that is, the active substance. To differentiate a generic drug from a brand name, in the first package, we can find the name of the actual content next to the acronym “EFG” and the name of the manufacturing laboratory. Generic drugs are marketed both by laboratories dedicated exclusively to the marketing of these products, as well as by brand laboratories that manufacture generic versions.
Authorization and Use of Generic Drugs
In our country, the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) and the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality are the authorities that approve the marketing of medicines once they have demonstrated sufficient guarantees of their quality, safety, and efficacy, whether these are brand or generic.
It is important to remember that any medicine is subjected to rigorous pharmacovigilance controls in Spain, which allows detecting any deficiency or characteristics outside the specifications supplied by the manufacturer once it is on the market.
The use of the generic medicine is widespread in many regions of the world, its purpose being predominant in the United States (more than 80% of the prescription market), and exceeding 60% in some countries of the European Union. The use of EFG encompasses a broad spectrum of medical treatments, whether for minor ailments or more severe disorders, such as cancer or HIV.
The Key Ingredient
The original medicine and generic medicine have a different designation, appearance, and packaging, but contain the same active ingredients. They can be considered the same medication. That could create confusion if it were not for the common denomination (common international denomination [INN]), which all brands of the drug share. That is common in the case of analgesics (for example, active ingredients such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are used as the basis of many painkillers that can be purchased in pharmacies).
Pills contain something called the active ingredient. The active ingredient is what does the main job – stops an asthma attack, slows the production of stomach acids, allows for better blood flow, etc. Each type of medication has a different active ingredient. Generics have the same active ingredients as the name brand or one that is in the same family of components. Necessarily it will do the same thing. Let’s look at the difference between Viagra and Sildenafil, according to Manual: Sildenafil is the name of the main ingredient in both Viagra and generic sildenafil tablets.
While erectile dysfunction is an incredibly common condition, countless commercial medications may result in some confusion when selecting a treatment. However, it is usually best to rely on professional guidance from a healthcare practitioner. So mostly they are the same, they both allow blood vessels to expand and relax. Esomeprazole is the active ingredient in Nexium and other generics that treat heartburn and stomach ulcers as well as excess stomach acid production.
The Differences Between Generics and Brand-Name Drugs
The main difference is the cost; however, inactive ingredients can also be different from one medication to another. Inactive ingredients often perform the function of preservative or base. These ingredients affect the patient but can occasionally result in allergic reactions or sensitivities. Should you have any allergic response to any medication, you should immediately notify your doctor. The purpose of generics is to provide a drug that is taken in the same way as the brand name, has the same ingredients, and the same effect.
Because of their relatively low cost, patients often question the equivalence of generic drugs and original drugs. Mainly, generic drugs cost less than the original drug because the research and development costs have been assumed by the company that has marketed the original drug. The company that produces the generic drug does not need to demonstrate the results of the preclinical or clinical tests of its product to obtain the marketing authorization.
However, generic authorized medicines are regulated in the same way as the original drugs. The facilities and conditions for manufacturing must meet a series of rigorous standards. The generic drug is tested to ensure that it has the same properties as the original. Once a generic medicine is authorized, the company that produces it must commit to collecting and presenting additional safety data (pharmacovigilance).
The cost difference between generics and brand-name drugs has a simple explanation. Brand-name drugs are the first developed in their category. As such, the company developing the medication has to carry the costs involved. There are costs for research, trials, testing, and production. Once the medicines have been developed and produced, those costs are no longer prevalent, so any generic produced after that no longer bears the weight of those expenses and can be sold for a lower price.
So whether your doctor prescribes you a household name or a generic, you can be sure that they will do the same thing. Just be sure to tell your doctor about any side effects. It may be that you have a sensitivity to something in the generic that is not present in the name brand; however, that does not mean that the generic is not just as good as the original. Be honest and open with your doctor so they can prescribe the best possible medication for you.