There is no difference between generic and branded medicines – Here’s why!

The World Health Organization statistics have pointed that nearly half of the world’s population has no access to standard health coverage. 95 million of those are in poverty due to high medical bills, while 800 million households use their maximum budget on medications. India is one such country with families under a large debt of medical bills. Within the same, more than 95 million are poverty-ridden because of their medical bills and nearly 800 million use the maximum of their household budget on the medicines. The answer to this problem is what we call ‘generic medicines’.

These are the medicines that carry a generic name in the market and are well-known by the pharmacists but not the buyers. And then there are ‘Branded generics’ that demonstrates medicines that are out of patent and carry a brand name given the company.

How do you buy medicines? Because most of the Indians cannot differentiate between the two.

What do you do when the doctor prescribes the medicine? You tend to visit the pharmacist and show the prescription and get what the doctors asked. When was the last time you even read your prescription? If you are unable to understand the handwriting, ask the pharmacist to help you decipher it. And soon you will realize that a doctor has prescribed a branded medicine. That is why, we questioned on the why you should be more finicky when buying a medicine {link to TL Blog 2}. By branded, we mean, the one that boasts the label of reputed pharma firms like Pfizer, Ranbaxy, etc. For instance, when you ask for a normal over-the-counter (OTC) medicine like Brufen, you are asking for BRUFEN MR that Abbott Laboratories manufactures in India – a branded generic medicine. But, when you look at the content, it includes Ibuprofen + Tizanidine as the main component. In reality, doctors should prescribe Ibuprofen which means generic as opposed to Brufen which is a branded name.

Now, when it comes to quality, they are all the same.

Many big brands that manufacture branded medicines are also in the business of producing generic ones. The generic and the branded are produced in the same facility albeit with different labels. The difference between making a branded and generic medicine is not more than 5% to 10%. There are local manufacturers, marketers, and big pharma brands –many players make the same medicines and follow the compliance set by WHO-GMP. Again, a quality conscious company does manufacture drugs at a higher rate, but the difference is negligible. And most generics are highly competitive, that is why they cap their price far lower than the branded ones to get a good foothold in the market. Even the retail pharma stores would opt for the well-known generic manufacturers since they are quality-conscious and still price their medicines 40%-50% lower than the branded ones. That is the only difference between generic and branded medicines

And the Doctors and Pharma companies incentivizing the brand

Usually, the parties involved in yielding benefits from branded medicines are pharmaceutical trading agencies and drug makers. They work had to portray branded generics are superior to generic by spending more on promotions and advertising. They leverage patients’ safety and value consciousness by promoting quality though it is the same as the generic ones. Even medical professionals are duping patients by only prescribing branded medicines. These all are the promoters of branded generics having a personal interest in recommending the drug to the customers instead of offering an alternative in the form of cheaper generics.

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