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What does the term "generic" mean? Do generic medications produce the same effect as the brand name medicines do?
The difference between a brand name medicine and a generic one is in the name, shape and in the price. A generic drug is usually called by the name of the active ingredient while a manufacturer uses a brand name. However, a manufacturer cannot possess a patent for a certain chemical agent, this is why manufacturers of generic medications can legally produce the so-called "generics". They are the same chemically and since the active ingredient is identical, they have the same medical effect. Thus buying a generic medication one pays less but gets the very same result.
Why are generic medicines so cheap?
Generics are much cheaper than brand-name drugs because generic companies do not have overhead cost such as research and marketing. Most generic drugs are manufactured off-shore and sold online. Since manufacturers do not spend on advertising, research, and creating a physical store, the cost savings are passed on to the consumer.
Are generic drugs as reliable as brand name pills?
Generic drugs are tested under the same standards as brand-name drugs. Each generic drug is laboratory tested so that the same amount is absorbed into the body as with brand-name drugs.
The FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration), regulates the market and protects the public by inspecting drug manufacturers, and recalling products that do not meet stringent standards. Manufacturing plants are also inspected by the FDA to make sure that they are compliant with FDA standards.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration has accomplished 3,500 inspections annually to ensure that the standards for medicines are met.
Generic pills do not look like the brand name medication. The pills have a different name printed on them. Why?
As we have already mentioned that no manufacturer can take out a patent for a chemical agent. Thus generics can have the exactly same active ingredients as the brand pills. However, names and appearance (shape and color) of medications can be and are always patented and should be treated as the intellectual property. Thus using the name and the shape of the brand pills a manufacturer producing generic medications will be accused of the copyright infringement. This is why generic pills look different, they are of a different color and have a different shape if compared to a brand name pill.
Are generic drugs patented?
No, but having a patent does not make it any more reliable.
Manufacturers patent their products so that they could have the exclusive rights to produce a drug for a period of time. As defined, a patent is a policy provided to people who seek protection for their intellectual property. In effect, the government gives the inventor the right to produce and sell his invention exclusively in exchange for sharing the details of the invention to the public domain. As an intellectual property, owners can also license their patented products as well as mortgage, assign, or transfer the right to other parties. These rights only apply until the patent expires.
Generic versions of these medicines can be produced after their patent expires since it will not be legal for anyone to take advantage of the invention without repercussions. The length of applied patents for US drug products is 20 years. Although it may seem that it is a long time, we have to remember that patents must be approved first before clinical trials begin. Excluding clinical trial and testing, the life of a US drug patent is pegged at seven to twelve years.
Generic pills can be produced based on these 4 reasons:
- The patent has expired
- The patent for the drug is invalid, or hard to enforce
- Non-existence of a drug patent from the start
- Under government where U.S. patents are not enforced.
For guidance on the legal issues of generic medicine, you can refer to the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984. This law essentially increased the protection of patented products, but also allows generic medicines makers to produce their medicines.
The process of patenting is not only exclusive in the United States. There are different standards of patenting in India in China and other countries. The bottom-line is that with the different patenting policies from different countries, patenting is a non-issue in the long run.
India passed the Patent Act in 1970, which allows Indian companies to make generic and cheaper alternatives for well known medicines. Then on 2004, India changed its patent standards to allow patents on chemicals. As of date, there are approximately 6,000 patents filed under the Indian government. India's patent system is designed to encourage firms to invest in low-cost manufacturing processes and make the generic medicines widely available to the market at low prices.
With this development, India is now producing roughly half of the world's antiretrovirals, most with modest cost and with the country also supplying much of the ingredients for the drug.
What is online pharmacy?
Since about the year 2000, hundreds of pharmacies have begun operating over the internet.
Many such pharmacies are, in some ways, similar to community pharmacies; the primary difference is the method by which the medications are requested and received. Some customers consider this to be more convenient than traveling to a community drugstore.
Do I need a prescription to buy drugs via online pharmacy?There are three schemes of selling prescription medicines using online pharmacies:
- Some pharmacies will sell such medications with a pre-written prescription only.
- The most of internet pharmacies do not require you to have a prior prescription, but will request you to fill a form containing information on your current and past medical condition relevant to the drug, current medical treatment. Then the pharmacy's physician will review the situation and write a proper prescription.
- In the past, there have been pharmacies offering the prescription drugs without a prescription or a doctor review.
Glossary of terms:Brand-name drug
The first approved version of a drug.Generic drugs
Equivalent versions of brand-name drugs approved for safety, efficacy, quality, and purity by the Food & Drug Administration.Active ingredient
The specific chemical ingredient that makes a drug work.Inactive ingredient
Ingredients that are used only as additives for color, flavor, binding, or bulk.