Is There A Difference Between Branded And Generic Drugs?

the difference between generic and branded drugs

If you visit your doctor, they will write you a prescription to take to a pharmacist. In most cases, your chemist or pharmacist will offer you two choices – branded or generic drug versions. So, which one should you buy? This is often a confusing choice for many patients.

Most of the drugs in pharmacies have both generic and branded versions. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand the difference. To some, generic drugs are thought to be of a lower quality standard – but what’s the real difference between these two versions? Let’s start by defining them:

generic drugs in pills and tables

Brand-Name Drugs

Brand-name drugs are manufactured by the original pharmaceutical company. This is the company that came up with the original formula for the drug, or bought the patent for it. These company hold a patent to protect the drug name for a certain period of time, to recoup their investment. After the expiry of the patent other brands can legally make a generic equivalent of that particular medicine.

The reason why people opt for branded drugs is usually the perceived higher levels of quality control. As the original brand, there is a sense of trust that comes with the purchase. However, this comes at a cost. Brand-name drugs are usually quite a bit more expensive than generic versions.

Generic Drugs

Some people confuse generic drugs with counterfeits, which is not correct. Generic drugs are the same as original drugs, only that another company is producing them. These drugs contain the same quality, ingredients, dosage, and same route of administration.

combinatio of generic and branded drugs

Just like the brand-name, generic drugs have the same effect and benefits. Therefore, you can swap them with brand-name drugs and get the same results. The company producing and selling generic drugs must still apply to authorities such as the FDA and go through the standard procedures to sell medicine that other companies do.

Differences Between Generic and Brand-Name Medicine

The safety and efficacy of generic drugs are the same as brand-name drugs. But several minor factors differentiate the two versions. A good example is the pricing. Brand-name drugs are more expensive, and there are reasons for it.

The original manufacturer must conduct research and clinical trials to prove the drug’s safety and effectiveness. The whole process to bring the drug to market is very costly. This testing and analysis, along with the original cost to develop the medicine is why brand-name drugs are comparatively more expensive.

woman taking medicines

Generic drugs do not go through such a process. The manufacturer gets everything from the original company. This includes the ingredient, procedures, and so on. So, the overall cost of producing the drug is lower. That’s why the generic version can cost as much as 90% less than brand-name alternatives.

Another difference is colour and size. Generic versions often come in different hues and shapes to the branded originals. The packaging, flavours, and inactive ingredients differ some of the time. Due to trademark laws they cannot look exactly the same as the brand name medication. This makes it easy to distinguish the two versions.

Most of the time, it makes sense to buy the generic versions of drugs, in order to save yourself some money. Buying from a reputable pharmacy like Think Pharmacy protects you against fake generic drugs.

Wondering if you should trust a doctor’s or pharmacist’s advice? See our latest post for the differences.