Generic medicines: sort the facts from the fiction

Same results for a fraction of the cost?
Woman choosing medicine in pharmacyGetty Images

Brought to you by Chemists’ Own.

Picture this: you’re standing in the pharmacy, about to collect a much-needed prescription or pick up a medicine when you’re asked if you’d like the cheaper version instead. Should you say yes?

Pharmacy brands like Chemists’ Own are often considered as good as brand-name medicines for several reasons. These no-name underdogs have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they meet the same standard of safety and efficacy as the branded product. With the same active ingredients as their branded counterparts, they deliver results at a fraction of the cost.

From prescription medicines to paracetamol products, should you pay a premium for a brand name or enjoy the benefits of generic medicines without the cost?

Is the money saving hack worth it? And can something that’s so much cheaper than its branded alternative work as well?

Read on as we set the record straight on everything generic medicines.

Generic medicines are more cost-effective than branded alternatives, and they still do the same job.

(Credit: Getty Images)

What is a generic medicine?

According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the Australian government authority responsible for assessing and regulating medicines, a generic medicine is an additional brand of an existing medicine. It contains the same active ingredient (the chemical compound that makes the medicine work) as the existing medicine.

In addition, generic medicines must demonstrate ‘bioequivalence’, i.e. when you are administered the same dose of generic medicine as a branded medicine, it is absorbed by your body in a similar manner. Chemists’ Own products, for example, work in the same way as other recognised brands. Its products contain the same active ingredient, in the same dose and strength compared to the recognised brands. Like all medicines sold in Australian pharmacies, they must meet the same strict quality standards.

Why are unbranded medicines so much cheaper?

Typically, they are much more affordable as generic manufacturers do not need to invest into extensive research and development and clinical trials, so they can offer their products at a lower cost.

Generic medicine containing the same active ingredient can be manufactured and sold by other companies once the patent for the existing brand has expired.

Pharmacy brands are bioequivalent to the branded version in terms of quality, safety and effectiveness.

(Credit: Getty Images)

Are generic medicines as effective and safe as brand-named products?

In short, yes. Generic medicines must meet the same strict safety and efficacy standards as brand-name medicines. The TGA requires generic manufacturers to demonstrate that their products are bioequivalent to the brand-name version in terms of quality, safety, and effectiveness. This ensures that generic medicines provide the same therapeutic benefits as their brand-name counterparts.

While they perform in the same manner as the branded medicines, the generic version may vary slightly in size, taste, ‘inactive ingredients’ (such as binding materials, preservatives and flavourings) and packaging.

Are all medicines available in a generic version?

No. The original medicine may be the only version available in some instances because the medicine is relatively new in the market. A generic prescription medicine is only allowed to be supplied in Australia if it has been demonstrated through evidence that the generic medicine is bioequivalent to the original/branded medicine.

It’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalised guidance based on your own medical condition and history.

Chemists’ Own offers over-the-counter medications at value for money without compromising quality for Australian consumers. When you select a Chemists’ Own product, you are choosing a quality Australian brand which has been in pharmacy only for over 25 years.

Brought to you by Chemists’ Own.

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