There are currently three types of formulations which are in the market viz branded, branded generic and generic drug product. Let us understand what they actually mean. The brand-name drug product is originally discovered and developed by a pharmaceutical company which is usually costlier due to cost involved in the process to bring it to the market and they are patented. Once the patent life expires on a brand-name drug product, it is eligible to be made into a “generic drug.” Many companies still market it with their brand name which is called branded generic drug product while others manufacture and market it with the name of active pharmaceutical drug components; called a generic drug product.
The generic product may differ in color, taste, shape, excipients, preservatives, and packaging; but they are proven to be therapeutic equivalent. It means they have the same active ingredient, in the same amount, in the same form, dissolving at the same rate in equal amounts and may be granted acceptance for substitution for a branded product. Orange Book is sort of publication that lists this type of information. This book rates generic drugs in line with their particular brand-name products and provides the FDA substitution suggestions. Another source is the FDA website (www.fda.gov).
As they are off patented the generic drug products are cheaper than branded drug product. They cost usually 30-70 % less than that of branded products. Generic products are cheaper does not mean that they are not as efficient as branded medicines. The drug regulatory authority of India, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and the Food and Drug Administration test these products for their content, quality and efficiency meticulously. Same standards are applied for branded as well as generic drugs.
Common generic drugs along with their brand names in India
• Paracetamol (pain reliever, fever reducer) – Crocin, Panadol
• Ibuprofen (an anti-inflammatory drug) – Combiflam, Brufen
• Pantoprazole (antacid) – Pan 40, Pansec
• Amoxicillin (antibiotic) – Amox, Actimox, Amoxil
• Insulin (diabetes) – Actrapid, BD Microfine, Humanext N
Thus one can ask the pharmacy to substitute a generic drug for the drug prescribed by the doctor. Each state has a specific law which allows pharmacists to substitute less expensive generic drugs for many brand names. However, a pharmacist may not substitute the generic if the doctor specifies that a brand name must be dispensed. Sometimes an acceptable generic is available that your doctor may not be aware of. In that case, a pharmacist may be able to discuss with your doctor to recommend an effective medication that costs less.
Dr. Santosh V. Gandhi
Dept of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
AISSMS College of Pharmacy, Pune