03.Q and A
1. What are generic drugs?
A generic drug is a copy of a brand name drug. Generic drugs have the same active ingredients, same clinical effects and are manufactured to the same standard as their branded equivalents.
2. Why would I use generic drugs instead of branded drugs?
Simple — to save money! A generic drug contains the same active ingredient and attributes of the original branded drug, but costs less.
3. Are generic drugs as safe as brand-name drugs?
Yes, for most people and conditions it's safe to substitute a generic medication for a brand name medication. Generic drugs use the same active ingredients and work in the same way in our bodies as branded drugs and must meet the same standards as brand name drugs to ensure quality and effectiveness.
Generic medicines may contain different inactive substances such as fillers. Depending on the inactive substance, they may not be safe for people who are allergic to a particular inactive substance, such as gluten, lactose or preservatives. Adverse reactions to inactive substances are extremely rare. However, people with severe allergies need to check all medicines carefully before starting them by reading a Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) leaflet or talking to your doctor/pharmacist. This problem is not confined to generic medicines, original medicines also contain inactive substances which potentially may cause an allergic reaction.
4. Are generic drugs as strong as branded equivalents?
Yes. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) requires that generic drugs have the same amount of the same active ingredient as branded drugs.
5. Do generic drugs take longer to work in the body?
No. Generic drugs work in just the same way and in the same time as branded drugs.
6. Does every brand-name drug have a generic equivalent?
No. New branded drugs are protected by patent for 20 years, giving the manufacturer the sole right to sell the drug. As patents expire, other manufacturers can market generic versions, after thorough assessment, monitoring and approval by the TGA.
7. If generic drugs are just as good as branded equivalents, why are they less expensive?
When a drug’s patent is about to expire, other manufacturers can apply to the TGA to produce a generic version of the drug containing the same active ingredients. Generic drug manufacturers don’t have to match the investment of companies developing new drugs and so can pass on their reduced costs in the form of lower prices to consumers.
8. Do brand-name and generic drugs look the same?
Not necessarily. While they contain the same active ingredients, other ‘inactive’ ingredients such as colouring or flavouring may differ.
9. Are brand-name drugs made in more modern facilities than generic drugs?
No. Both generic and brand-name drug facilities must meet the same standards of good manufacturing practices. Interestingly, many manufacturers of branded drugs also make generic drugs, copying other companies’ and even their own branded drugs, then selling them without the brand name.
10. Where can I find more information on generic drugs?
Contact your doctor or pharmacist for more information on generic drugs. These professionals should be happy to explain more about generic drugs and tell you if less expensive forms of medication are suitable for you.