Updated: July 27, 2018
Do you buy generic medicines? I do because they’re cheaper than the branded ones. But do you know why they’re cheaper?
Is it because they are of less quality or less effective than branded medicines? I did a small study on this and found some very interesting information.
I discovered that a generic drug is basically a medicine that has gone off patent. What does this mean?
Pharmaceutical companies spend time and money on research and development of new medicines.
Once they are able to come up with one that passes government health tests and standards, the pharmaceutical company will be given exclusive rights to manufacture and market the product globally for a period of around 20 years. This will allow them to recover their costs for R&D.
After that, the patent expires and the product can now be manufactured and sold by other companies. And that’s when medicines of different brands but same generic names come out.
Frequently Asked Questions on Generic Medicines
Generic medicine advocates believe that since the active ingredients and/or formula is the same – then the quality, safety and efficacy of these drugs should also be the same as the originator of the branded pharmaceutical product.
Are generic medicines really safe?
Yes. In the Philippines, both branded and generic medicines are required to be registered and approved by BFAD before they can be sold on the market. But always make sure that you buy only from reputable drugstores and choose generic brands manufactured by legitimate companies.
So why are they cheaper?
Because manufacturers of generic medicines only need to cover its production and marketing costs. They did not invest on expensive research and development costs which the original pharmaceutical company did.
Which is better, generic or branded medicines?
This is hard to answer because branded medicines will always have some value-added benefit against generic medicine. But that advantage does not necessarily make it more effective.
Look at it this way. This question is like asking which is better at quenching your thirst: filtered water from the tap (generic) or bottled water (branded).
Both will be effective at hydrating you, bottled water is more handy to bring around. It can be carbonated or flavored, making it more fun to drink. And it can claim of added benefits because it has vitamins, ionized, or has undergone a certain process.
So I can always buy generic medicines?
Not quite, remember that there is a patent protection period for newly developed medicines. During these times, you have no choice but to buy the branded product of the pharmaceutical company.
Prices of Common Maintenance Medicines
The last question above makes it important for us to know if a medicine is already available as a generic product. That will immensely help us save money, specially on maintenance medicines.
So how much exactly can you save? Here’s a comparative study I did on generic cholesterol medicine and other similar products. Prices quoted are in Philippine Pesos.
Fenofibrate cap 200 mg: 17.00 vs 24.00
Simvastatin tab 20 mg: 1.50 vs 11.00
Amlodipine tab 10 mg: 2.25 vs 4.70
Nifedipine cap 10 mg: 3.45 vs 9.90
Salbutamol 100 mcg Inhaler: 129.25 vs 347.40
ARTHTRITIS / BODY PAIN
Naproxen cap 500 mg: 6.00 vs 15.00
Fluoxetine cap 20 mg: 7.80 vs 32.25
Human Insulin 1 vial: 180.00 vs 280.00
Metformin tab 500 mg: 2.00 vs 5.30
I’d like to thank Ms. Jenny, the pharmacist in our neighborhood for the prices above. Please note that this is just a partial list of generic medicines and the prices in other pharmacies may be different.
What’s important to note here is that you can basically save up to 70% by purchasing generic medicines. A significant number if you ask me, especially if you’re taking them regularly.
That’s it for now, maybe you’d also like to read my past article on How To Save Money on Medicines for more money saving tips.
Note: Generic Price vs Branded Price is as of June 2016