Probably one of the most common questions we hear about medicines is “are generic drugs safe?”. Due to the surfacing of plenty of online drugstores on the web selling “cheaper” generic alternatives to the well-known brand name products, buyers are getting curious about what generic medicines are and if they are safe to use despite their affordable nature.
What are generic medicines?
There is a stigma to cheaply-priced products, medicines included. When something is affordable, people are quick to assume they are substandard or just plain unreliable—this is the case with generic medicines. Consumers often think of generic medicines as second-rate copies of the existing brand name medications and often pay these medicines no mind.
Generic medicines are indeed copies of the brand name treatments existing in the market. However, they are far from being the poor, less effective opinion of them by the consumers.
In truth, generic medicines are called as such because of their similarities with the brand name medicines. Generic medicines are created as identical to brand-name drugs in terms of their active ingredient, or the component that makes them effective.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, generic medicines also undergo the same rigorous standards in manufacturing as the brand name medications and are also tested as rigorously for their similarities with the brand name medicines before they are approved as generic versions of a brand name treatment.
Generic medicines undergo the same stringent standards, FDA says
What this statement from the FDA implies is that consumers need not fear generic medicines since they are pretty much the same as their brand name counterparts. Albeit some patients still doubt that generic medicines are as good as their brand name predecessors, this doesn’t change the truth that generic and brand name treatments are pretty much the same.
Why are generic medicines cheaper than the brand name or innovator drugs in the market?
Although most consumers love the idea of saving more then it comes to their purchases, some buyers are more skeptical of cheaply-priced products, especially those that may eventually affect their health, like medicines. Since brand name treatments are naturally more expensive, these medicines continue to be the top choices of the buyers whenever they are shopping for their meds at their local drugstores—this is because buyers assume that the price is directly proportional to potency.
This misconception is the reason why the FDA still had to educate buyers about the truth about generic and brand name medicines—at the end of the day, regardless of price status, these medicines have the same effect in the buyers.
Brand name medications are expensive because of several reasons:
- Years of research. Because brand-name medicines are pioneer drugs, their manufacture entailed years of research, which in turn, translated to millions of dollars spent on drug development. It is expensive enough to research the individual raw materials that make up the drug, let alone to spend clinical testing (both human and animal) for these drugs.
- Legal approvals. Apart from the years of research and clinical trials for the brand name drugs, companies had to go through an arduous process of gaining legal approvals for the drugs. These medicines had to comply with the FDA’s standards and also with the local or national legislation for novel treatments. Besides, manufacturers should also legally battle for the patents and their long-term exclusivity in the market
- Marketing. Marketing the brand name products is also draining the drug manufacturers money. They will have to do pre-market testing and will have to pay for their products’ introduction in the market. Manufacturers should also give allowance for the freebies for the doctors and pharmacies and also pay for good PR for their medications.
Besides these, there are also a lot of other supplementary expenses that companies need to shoulder. If there are legal snags along the way, companies may still need to bleed money to retain their rights to exclusivity to market for their brand name products.
Why are some generic medicines illegal?
Because of the immense costs incurred by manufacturing brand-name medications, the FDA allows brand-name drug manufacturers a period of marketing exclusivity to allow them to recoup from the expenses incurred by the manufacture and the development of the medicines.
Although there is no reason for generic medicines to be illegal, they become illegal to market in several places where the brand name treatments have patent and marketing exclusivity.
Generic medicines will still be allowed to market all around the world eventually, but there will be places where generics of specific products are illegal until the patent expiration of the brand name treatment.
What are the advantages of purchasing generic medicines?
Would it be advantageous for consumers to consider the purchase of generic treatments in lieu of the branded ones? Yes!
Here are some of the advantages of considering generic medicines:
- Cheaper prices. The main advantage of generic medicines over brand-name treatments is the affordability. Consumers can save more in their prescriptions when considering the purchase of generic alternatives.
- Reliability. Since generic medicines contain the same active ingredients as the innovator drugs, consumers can expect the same potency from the products.
- Accessibility. Generic medicines are now widely distributed and for medicines whose patent exclusivities have already expired, generic medicines now have them outnumbered.
- Online purchases. You can purchase most of the generic medicines online—generic counterparts sold online are from various manufacturers all over the world.
Generic medicines are safe and effective to use considering their similar active ingredient as the brand name treatments. Consumers should not fear using these medicines due to their cheap price since the FDA explains that despite the price difference, generic and innovator drugs are more alike than we think. Choosing generic alternatives may be a scary notion at first, the decision to use generics will not be a regret considering the benefits accompanying this choice.