Are generic medicines the same as the brand/originator drug?
Doctors and patients often question the comparative safety and effectiveness of generic replacement drugs versus their brand-name drugs.
What are generic drugs?
A generic drug refers to products with exactly the same active ingredient/s and salt combination, the same strength of the active ingredient/s, the same dosage form as the original brand-name drug, and the same quality and efficacy.
Are generic drugs as effective as brand-name drugs?
There are stringent regulations around the registration of generic medicine in South Africa. The South African Medicine Control Council (MCC) requires that generic drugs have the same high quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name drugs. They also require post-registration testing and assurance of maintained stability and as such quality, safety and efficacy over the entire shelf-life period of the product. The MCC inspects the manufacturing and packaging facilities of generic companies for compliance to international standards. This means that generics sold in South Africa will comply with good manufacturing practices.
Why do generics cost less?
Creating a drug is very expensive. Since generic drug makers do not develop a drug from scratch, the costs to bring the drug to the market are less; therefore, generic drugs are usually less expensive than brand-name drugs. But remember, generic drug makers must show that their product performs in the same way as the brand-name drug.
What are the major differences allowed between a generic drug and a brand-name drug?
The generic drug can have a different shape, colour, coating or flavouring than the brand-name version.
How do I switch to a generic drug?
If you would like to save money by buying generic medicines instead of branded medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are generic medicines that can be used to substitute your current medication. Any time you replace one medicine with another, for any reason, make sure you learn what the new medicine looks like and which branded medication it is replacing. This is important because it will help you avoid accidentally taking the same medicine twice (because the brand-name and generic pills look different).
Do non-prescription medicines also have brand- and generic names?
Yes. A medicine you buy without a prescription can be sold under many different brand names and many different store brands, even though it contains the same medicine. For example: Asprin can be sold as Disprin® or Ecotrin®.
Visit www.angloms.co.za > Plans & Products > Standard or Managed Care Plan > Medicines to check which generics are available to you and at what cost.