Wednesday, June 7

Brand name or generic drug: which is better?

Do not be suspicious if the pharmacy offers us the cheaper, non-brand alternative: its efficacy and safety are identical to those of the original drug

Maria Rossello Gelabert

MARIA ROSSELLO GELABERT Pharmacist and PhD student in the Application of Pharmaceutical Technology for the Development of Advanced Therapies., University of the Basque Country / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea

Imagine that you are shopping in the supermarket and you reach for a packet of salt. You have different brands at your disposal and you choose the one that suits you best, but it will still be salt. Regardless of which one you buy, you’ll use it for the same thing, right? Well, the same goes for brand name drugs and generics.

Twin brothers who met 10 years later

They are both like twin brothers who met 10 years after they were born. While one had been enjoying the world for a decade, the other had stayed without leaving home. The first, the brand name, came into the world after investigations called preclinical and clinical trials verified that it was effective and safe. And of course, this costs a lot of money.

That is why there is the concept of a patent, which protects them for a time so that no one else can imitate them. This protection is sought by Law 29/2006 on Guarantees and Rational Use of Medicines and Health Products. This is a data exclusivity rule that ensures that the brand name drug will be at least 10 years without being able to be imitated, as explained in the illustration below.

Elaborated by the author with Biorender.

1. Marketing of the original drug is authorized by the corresponding agency.

2. At the age of eight, the request to register generic drugs is allowed.

3. After 10 years, the generic can be launched on the market.

Exceptionally, it may happen that the generic drug can only be marketed when the brand name has been available for 11 years. The extra year is the (+1) that appears in the chart title. It is only extended if, during its first 8 years on the market, the brand-name medicine obtains an authorization to treat more diseases.

Why should we trust generic drugs?

Now imagine that one day you go into a pharmacy to ask for your usual medication and the box is different. You are clearly going to tell the pharmacist that you are not taking that. In most cases they will be offering her the generic instead of the brand name, the one she has been using all her life.

Well, you should not show any misgivings about the change, for the following reasons:

1. The generic contains the same active ingredients, which gives us a therapeutic effect.

2. It has the same pharmaceutical form: tablet, injectable, ointment…

3. It has passed the same quality controls as brand name drugs.

4. And best of all: contrary to popular belief, it is very safe for our health. Because the original drug has been on the market for at least 10 years, that is, it has been subjected to many studies to detect if it causes any serious adverse reaction.

But how do we distinguish one from the other?

Generics carry the acronym EFG (Generic Pharmaceutical Equivalent) on their packaging. The only difference that they will present with the brand ones will be the color or the shape, but it is the same.

More expensive is not synonymous with better

Surely you have heard or verified that generic drugs are cheaper. With everything we already know, it makes all the sense in the world, doesn’t it?

Going back to the comparison from the beginning, if there was only one brand of salt, those responsible for the brand would put the price they wanted because it would be an exclusive product. But what would happen if another company started manufacturing the seasoning? Well, if before the package cost €100 and, suddenly, there is the option to buy a white label for €10, the decision seems clear.

Generic drugs cost less because they do not reflect the costs of all the research on the drug, since the company that developed it has shown it to be safe. That is why they can lower the sale price, which benefits the National Health System.

In short: do not be suspicious of the twin brother who came into the world 10 years later. Because both the original and the copy are great and save many people’s lives.

This article has been published in ‘The Conversation‘.

Also Read  Dio positivo a prueba de Covid durante 32 semanas consecutivas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *