Why Generic Drugs Are 90% Cheaper Than Brand Drugs
Many people are unhappy with drug pricing. Although 90% of prescriptions filled in the country are for generic drugs, brand drugs make up 74% of expenditure on drugs in the country. Generic Drugs save billions of people each year. Generic drugs saved customers $253 billion in 2017 and more than $1 trillion in the last few years. Keep on reading to know the major differences between generic and brand drugs.
Generic Drugs are chemical copies of the original brand. They have similar active constituents. Also, generic drugs are available at a lower price compared to brand drugs. Normally, generics cost 85% less as compared to the brand version.
Brand-Name Drugs are trade made and are protected by a patent. When a pharmaceutical company introduces a new drug on the market, it spends a lot of money on the research and development of that drug, along with its marketing and promotion. A patent allows exclusive rights to the company to sell that particular drug.
This patent is for a predefined period that depends on the drug’s molecule. During this time, the pharmaceutical company gets a chance to recover its expenses done for the research and development of the drug. When the patent expires, a generic version of that drug could be developed under the FDA regulations. This generic version of the medicine can be made by the same company or a different company.
Many active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and generics are prepared in countries such as India, China, and others.
Safety of Generic Drugs:
Generic drugs are always safe for consumption. These medicines should meet the similar quality standards laid by the FDA as brand drugs. Generic drugs should be bioequivalent to the brand drugs. Bioequivalence implies that the generic medication acts similarly to brand medication. Also, it offers similar benefits.
The role of the FDA is to monitor drug safety. They examine more than 3000 drug manufacturer facilities worldwide each year. Moreover, the FDA monitors the safety of generic drugs after their approval. If the FDA finds any issues regarding their safety or quality, a recall gets issued for the affected drug to keep the population safe.
For instance, in case of any reports of a drug resulting in side effects, or adverse events, the FDA works and investigates wherever required. Everyone must be knowing about a famous antacid, Zantac. Trace amounts of cancer-producing impurities were present in these drugs.
The FDA issued recalls on this drug to remove it from the market. Also, the FDA enhanced the safety checks to avoid contamination issues at some point.
Differences between generic and brand versions of a medication:
A generic drug has the same active ingredient as its brand-name drugs and has the same therapeutic effect on the body. Thus, the generic drug is bioequivalent to its brand-name drug. In other words, there is no significant variation between these two drugs in terms of rate and extent of absorption.
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Generic drugs undergo testing for purity, quality, strength, and efficacy to show usefulness before the FDA approval. They should contain similar APIs and offer similar benefits. There are some differences, yet. Generic and brand versions of a drug don’t appear the same. Generic drugs might contain somewhat dissimilar inactive constituents (flavors, fillers, binders, etc). These don’t affect the way a specific drug works.
Many individuals might have concerns about changing to generics and choosing brands. A few healthcare providers also have concerns with some drugs. To be precise, this is a choice. These concerns may be:
- side effects
- adverse events
- deteriorating signs or conditions
Also, generics are cheaper than brand drugs. The primary reason generic drugs are cheaper than brand drugs is that the pharmaceutical companies that develop generic drugs do not have to invest time and money in developing these drugs.
Generic drugs are copies of their brand-name drugs, which have already undergone the process of research and development. Thus, it is very important to note that generic drugs are cheaper not because they are of a lesser quality than their brand-name counterparts, but because of the aforementioned reasons.
In addition, the generic drugs should also be similar to their brand-name counterparts in terms of dosage type, dosage strength, route of administration, and amount of drug delivered to the bloodstream. The testing standards of the drugs should also be the same and the manufacturers of generic drugs have to oblige to the FDA rule and regulations to produce and sell generic drugs.
However, generic drugs could be different from brand-name drugs in terms of shape, color, and packaging. But this should not affect the functioning and effect of the drug.
When is a generic medication a better option?
Price is one of the major reasons a generic drug is a better option. The price of generic medications is lower than their brand versions. The information shows the utility of low-price generics in improving health outcomes.
Drug affordability is one of the huge concerns for many people these days. A recent survey observed that 79% of individuals surveyed thought medication costs were “irrational.” If a person does not carry insurance, the price might be a huge reason a generic drug might be a better choice.
Furthermore, the biggest advantage of buying generic drugs is the price. These drugs are 90% cheaper compared to their brand-name drugs, with the same effects. Also, generic drugs cannot be marketed at a price that is higher than brand-name drugs. Hence, it would be a smart choice to switch to generic drugs, as these drugs are safe and one can confidently take them. However, a medical change should be discussed with your doctor first. You may ask your doctor to prescribe generic drugs.
When is a brand drug a better option?
In a few instances, a person might require consuming a brand drug if there’s no generic obtainable. He or she might also require to stay with a brand drug if the body fails to react to the generic, signs get deteriorated, or the person experiences a hypersensitivity or any ill effect from an inactive constituent.
At times, healthcare providers choose not to change drugs with a narrow therapeutic index (NTI), or safe limit. This implies the presence of a smaller window between the benefits and the ill effects of the medicine.
Healthcare providers perform frequent blood tests to ensure that a person is in a safe window. Some instances can be:
- heart medication like digoxin
- drugs for seizures or epilepsy
- anticoagulants such as warfarin
- thyroid drugs such as levothyroxine.
Yet again, this is an individual preference. Make sure to discuss with a doctor all the choices.
Barriers to proceeding toward generics in India:
Developed countries like the United States sell only patent medications under a brand. And, marketing of only such drugs is done through their ties with healthcare providers. They sell the off-patent medications as pure generics, without making use of the brand name. This aids in decreasing the cost of pure generic drugs. However, the Indian market is selling many generic drugs under their brand names (brand generics).
In India, the quality of generics is not measured at par with brand drugs. For receiving quality brand drugs, generic producers need to invest in machinery and the approval process which might enhance the price of generics.
A sales commission of brand drugs is higher for every person in the supply chain. Since the cost of generic drugs is significantly lower, the revenue received by everybody in the supply chain is also lesser. As a result, Indian brand sellers might stop the government’s move to generic drugs.
If a healthcare provider recommends only a generic, it is up to the chemist to decide which brand to push. In addition, generic producers might provide uncertain quality in case of scarcity. Furthermore, the suggestion of writing the generic name in prescription would increase the difficulty of prescribing combination medications or medications with multiple constituents.
In addition, in the United States, community pharmacists play a key role in dispensing drugs. So, their price awareness is very important. However, in India, there is no concept of community pharmacists. So, the responsibility for price reduction depends upon the doctors. And, doctors do not have the right knowledge of the price of diverse brands. This might decrease the sale of economic generics.
So, in the current scenario, Generics seems to be the best choice. Also, there is a higher necessity for consistent drug regulation worldwide. This would help in the overall growth of pharmaceuticals. The chief objective of patient care must be the accessibility of quality health care services and the right setup. With the help of sustainable and cost-effective technologies, entrepreneurs should cut off the price of medications.
You can buy generic drugs from local pharmacies as well as from online pharmacies. With the continued popularity of the internet, one can conveniently order medicines online and get them delivered to their doorstep. MedsEngage is one such verified online pharmacy that aims at providing you with the best quality medicines at affordable rates.