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Generic Medicines: Is it as Effective as the Original?

Generic alternatives for medication prescribed are widely available. In a bid to lower South Africa’s medicine costs, legislation regarding mandatory generic substitution was implemented in 2003. This law compels pharmacists or dispensing doctors to offer patients a generic alternative for any medicine prescribed.4a,b

The question is thus relevant: is generic medication as effective as the original?

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Generic alternatives for medication prescribed are widely available. In a bid to lower South Africa’s medicine costs, legislation regarding mandatory generic substitution was implemented in 2003. This law compels pharmacists or dispensing doctors to offer patients a generic alternative for any medicine prescribed.4a,b The question is thus relevant: is generic medication as effective as the original?

Generic medicines have their own inventive names, but contain the same active ingredient/s and have the same dose strength as the original medicine.3a,b Because generic medicines work in the same way in the body, they are interchangeable and used in place of original brand name medicines.1a,3a Although they contain the same active ingredient as the brand name medicine, they may contain different non-active ingredients, such as colourings, starches, sugars, etc.2a There may also be differences in size, shape, colour or pack size, but none of these have any impact on the way they work.1a,2a

Generic medicines must comply with the same stringent controls of quality and efficacy as the original brand name medicines. In fact, generics and their originals are often manufactured by the same company.2b, 3c Once the generic medicine becomes available the manufacturer is also obliged to monitor for reports of any adverse events, as is the case for original medicines.2b In South Africa, all generic medicines must be approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), previously known as the Medicines Control Council (MCC), in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act (101 of 1965).3d SAHPRA employs a team of scientists who check that generic medicines adhere to the same quality, efficacy and safety standards as the original brand name medicine.1b,3e

Generic medicines usually become available after the patent of an original brand has expired. They are considerably less expensive than the original brands because they cost less to develop and manufacture.3f,g,4b Another reason why generic companies can keep prices down is because they spend less money on promoting and marketing their medicines.3g In 2009, a study conducted in South Africa assessed the potential savings that would be achievable by substituting generics for original brand name medicines prescribed for chronic conditions.5a When compared to 80 original medicines, generic versions cost 19.5 % to 97 % less, which amounted to an average saving of 50 %.5b While the use of generics can lead to substantial cost savings, it is estimated that only approximately 45 % of original brand name medicines are substituted for less expensive generics.4b,c

Generic medicine offers substantial cost savings without compromising on efficacy.3c,e,4b These savings allow more efficient use of your medical aid benefits and also free up money to pay for more expensive treatments or services that you may need.2c,3h

Adcock Ingram is one of South Africa’s leading manufacturers of generic medicines with a heritage of trust which spans over 125 years. Adcock Ingram manufactures generic medicines which are registered for quality, safety and efficacy, and our product list includes treatments for the most commonly occurring diseases and disorders.

Generics offer you the opportunity to exercise your rights as a consumer.1c You have the power to choose. Make sure it is not just any generic, but an Adcock Ingram Generic.

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Generic Medicine: From Factory to Pharmacy

People are often sceptical about the use of generic medicine, because they fear that the generic medicine would be somehow inferior to the original brand.6a In South Africa, those fears can be laid to rest.

For a generic medicine to be available in the pharmacy, it has to pass rigorous testing. Generic medicines must comply with the same stringent controls of quality, efficacy and safety as the original brand name medicines.2a

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People are often sceptical about the use of generic medicine, because they fear that the generic medicine would be somehow inferior to the original brand.6a In South Africa, those fears can be laid to rest.
For a generic medicine to be available in the pharmacy, it has to pass rigorous testing. Generic medicines must comply with the same stringent controls of quality, efficacy and safety as the original brand name medicines.2a In fact, generics and their originals are often manufactured by the same company in the same factories.3a They are produced in inspected factories under what is known as "GMP" or "Good Manufacturing Practice.2a

A company that first develops a new medicine is allowed to patent it, typically for up to 20 years. This allows the original company a period of exclusive supply, enabling it to recover its research and development costs. Once the patent expires, generic companies can then manufacture this product.3c

All approvals and testing of originator and generic medicine in South Africa are managed by the South African Health Product Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), previously known as the MCC.3b,7a. Over the last 50 years, South Africa has developed a regulatory authority with international standing.7b SAHPRA employs a team of doctors, scientists and pharmacists to check the product to ensure its safety, quality and efficacy.3b For approval of generic medicine, the pharmaceutical company must provide proof that that the product has a comparable therapeutic effect to that of the original brand. This can be done by conducting comparative clinical trials, or by providing proof of bioequivalence or in some cases by laboratory testing.8a A generic which is bioequivalent to the original brand, in essence has equivalent efficacy and safety.6b

Generic medicines have lower development costs than the original brand, and their use leads to substantial cost savings.2d4a Generic medicine companies also tend to spend less on advertising and marketing of their medicines.2d The money saved with the use of generic medicines stretches your medical aid’s available funds, and frees up money for more expensive treatments or services you may need.1a,2b

Adcock Ingram is one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in South Africa and has brought quality medicine to families for more than 125 years. Adcock Ingram has four world class manufacturing plants, three of them locally and a fourth one in Bangalore, India. The Company’s focus is to produce and provide high quality original and generic pharmaceuticals in the most environmentally friendly and cost effective way. Adcock Ingram Generics cover the most common disease areas and conditions, including pain, skin conditions, heart conditions, infections and HIV.

It is now mandatory by law for a doctor or pharmacist to inform you if a generic medication is available for the medication prescribed to you.3e The power of choice of generic medication still resides with you.

When choosing a generic, make sure it is not any generic, but an Adcock Ingram Generic.

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Busting 5 Generic Medicine Myths

Although it is true that generic medicines have different names than the originator brands, they contain the same active ingredients, are of the same dosage form and are identical in strength to the original medicine.

Find out more about this and so much more in our latest Blog that dispels some of the greatest generic medicine myths.

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Myth: Generic medicine is not the same as the original brand medicine
Although it is true that generic medicines have different names than the originator brands, they contain the same active ingredients, are of the same dosage form and are identical in strength to the original medicine. They work in the same way in the body and are associated with the same benefits of the original medicine.3a,b Generic medicines may contain different non-active ingredients to the original brand such as colourings, starches, sugars, etc. and they may differ in size, colour or shape, but none of these have any impact on the therapeutic effect.2a

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Myth: Generic medicine is not as safe and effective as the original brand medicine
Generic medicines must comply with the same stringent controls of quality and efficacy as the original brand name medicines. In fact, generics and their originals are often manufactured by the same company.2b,3c Once the generic medicine becomes available the manufacturer is also obliged to monitor for reports of any adverse events, as is the case for original medicines.2b

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Myth: Generic medicine is not regulated and approved by South African regulatory authorities
In South Africa, all generic medicines must be approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), previously known as the Medicines Control Council (MCC), in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act (101 of 1965).3d SAHPRA employs a team of scientists who check that generic medicines adhere to the same quality, efficacy and safety standards as the original brand name medicine.1b,3e A generic pharmaceutical company has to provide proof to the South African Health Product Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) that a generic medicine has comparable therapeutic effects to the originator brand.8a This can be done by conducting comparative clinical trials, or by providing proof of bioequivalence or in some cases by laboratory testing.8a A generic which is bioequivalent to the original brand, in essence has equivalent efficacy and safety.6b

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Myth: Generic medicine does not really save money
Generic medicine offers substantial cost savings without compromising on efficacy.3c,e,4b These savings allow more efficient use of your medical aid benefits and also free up money to pay for more expensive treatments or services that you may need.2c,3h In 2009, a study conducted in South Africa assessed the potential savings that would be achievable by substituting generics for original brand name medicines prescribed for chronic conditions.26a When compared to 80 original medicines, generic versions cost 19.5 % to 97 % less, which amounted to an average saving of 50 %.5b

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Myth: Generic medicine is not manufactured by reputable pharmaceutical companies
Generics are often manufactured by the same company who manufactured the original brand.3c They are produced in inspected factories under what is known as "GMP" or "Good Manufacturing Practice.2b

Adcock Ingram is a good example of a leading pharmaceutical company in South Africa which manufactures both original and generic medication. Adcock Ingram has a proud heritage of supplying quality, cost-effective medication to South Africa for more than 125 years. Adcock Ingram Generics have been subjected to the same strict approval processes by South African medication regulatory authorities as the original medication, to ensure that your generic is just as good as the originator, but with the added benefit that it is more affordable. 1,a,b,2b,d,5b

You have the power to choose. Make sure it is an Adcock Ingram Generic.

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