Why generic medicine costs less
The misconception around the quality of generic medication is often because of the substantial difference in price in comparison to branded medicines. Most consumers believe that a cheaper price means an inferior product, but this is not the case.
The reason behind the price difference is that the branded medication manufacturers have to commit large amounts of money to the research and development of the original, where this is not required for the generic form, making it possible for them to produce the generic at a reduced cost. Doctors also tend to predominantly prescribe the branded medicines as they are familiar with them and are often influenced by manufacturers who spend money and time on marketing the clinical benefits rather than the cost benefits of medications, which is appealing to doctors who are driven by research and evidence.
Is generic medicine as effective as branded medicine?
Dr Jacques Snyman, clinical advisor for Resolution Health is a firm believer that generic medicines registered by the regulatory authorities are of the same quality as branded medication. “Despite the fact that the active ingredient in both is of exactly the same weight, volume and quality of manufacturing, consumers tend to feel they are not getting the same quality of drug when using a generic.”
What consumers often do not know is that in order for generic medication to qualify, there needs to be a certain amount of consistency to that of branded medication. “Once you have evidence of consistency it has to be approved by the relevant regulatory authority. Only then do you have a generic multi-source equivalent,” says Dr Snyman.
Why you should ask about generic medicine options
From a consumer perspective, most don’t know the difference between a generic and a branded drug. By law it is the pharmacist’s job to tell you there are generic drugs available and that you have a choice between the generic and branded option. However, it is also up to the consumer to ask about generics.
Another option available to consumers is so-called clone medicine which is the same as the branded medication, in different packaging. This helps to bring the cost down and is an option should you still want the “brand manufacturer's” medicine.
“Generic medicine provides access to affordable medicines and allows medical schemes to provide members on lower options with additional types of medication. It’s thus in your best interests to use generic or cloned medicines wherever possible in order to make your medical savings and benefits last longer and reduce any out-of-pocket costs.”