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How generic differ from branded drugs

What is the difference between a generic drug and a branded drug? Why are generic drugs much cheaper than branded ones? —swea_like3@yahoo.comd1


A generic drug differs from its branded counterpart only in name and price. The active ingredient in a generic drug is chemically identical to its branded counterpart. It is also identical—or bioequivalent—to its branded counterpart in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics, and intended use. Generic drugs, however, are much cheaper than branded drugs.

How a drug is named

When a new drug is discovered, it is given a proprietary or chemical name, which describes its atomic or molecular structure, but this name is usually long and complicated and impractical to use in scientific forums and literature. Thus, it is given a nickname or generic name. For example, (2S,5R,6R)- 6-{[(2R)-2-amino- 2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)- acetyl]amino}- 3,3-dimethyl- 7-oxo- 4-thia- 1-azabicyclo[3.2.0] heptane- 24-carboxylic acid N-acetyl-p-aminophenol, a very popular antibiotic, is better known by its generic name amoxicillin. A drug’s generic name is its International Non-proprietary Name (INN). It is used in referring to the drug in scientific literature and professional circles.

The pharmaceutical company that has discovered/invented and developed a drug is generally granted a patent, which gives it the exclusive right to manufacture and market the drug for a period of time, usually 20 years. It also it gives the drug a “catchy” proprietary, brand, or trade name, which it uses to promote and market the drug.

Once the patent of a drug expires, other drug manufacturers can start producing the drug using the same ingredients. When they do so, they often give the drug their own brand name to distinguish it from its competitors. Thus, the original brand name of amoxicillin, which was developed by Beecham Group is Amoxil. When the patent for amoxicillin expired, a host of drug companies began manufacturing the drug, hence currently amoxicillin has dozens of other brand names including trimox, moxatag, moxillin, globapen, globamox, etc.

There are some drug manufacturers, however, that do not give their products a brand name. They simply label the drugs by their generic names. These drugs are referred to as generic drugs. Generic drugs can be distinguished from each other because they bear the name of the company that produces them. By the way, some generic drugs have brand names, too, but the drug producers do not actively promote the drug by their brand names.

Why generic drugs are cheaper than branded drugsd2

Branded drugs that are still patented are necessarily rather expensive because its patent was issued to enable the drug manufacturer to recoup the money it spent in developing and testing the drug, which usually amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars.  It also follows that patented drugs do not have competitors and have no generic counterparts.

For drugs that are no longer covered by patents, the retail price of branded drugs is higher than that of their generic counterparts because although the cost of raw materials and the manufacturing process are the same, more is spent on branded drugs for marketing and promotion. The price difference between generic drugs and their branded counterparts is often enormous (e.g., generic amoxicillin cost R2.00 to R2.50 per 500 mg capsule while their branded counterparts cost more than R10.00). This is why consumers are increasingly patronizing generic drugstores.


Are generic drugs inferior to branded drugs?

There is a not-so-subtle campaign of some branded drug companies to undermine generic drugs by calling them substandard, but this allegation has really no basis. In the Philippines, drugs are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which ensures that generic drugs are bioequivalent to their branded counterparts.

Incidentally, at least one study has shown that because of affordability patient compliance is better when generic drugs rather that branded drugs are prescribed.


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