Generic Drugs and Medicines
You can save Money by Using Generic Drugs and Medicines
You are welcome to discuss with us the savings that you could make by using generic rather than branded drugs and medicines.
• Work in exactly the same way as the original branded drug.
• Are manufactured to the same high standard and quality as the original branded drug.
• Are almost always cheaper than the original branded drug.
Generic medicines do not only apply to prescriptions. You can make savings by using generic medicines for pain relief, hay fever, and cold sores.
You just need to tell to us or your GP that you want to make savings by using generic drugs and medicines.
What is a Generic Medicine?
A generic medicine is a copy of a branded medicine that contains exactly the same ingredient (or ingredients) that make the branded medicine work. These are called active ingredients. The generic medicines contain the same amount of active ingredients as the branded drug. Therefore the generic drug has the same:
- intended use
- same side effects
- route of administration
- side effects
- and strength
as the original branded drug. The generic medicine must be authorised by the Irish regulator, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB). Therefore the generic medicine must meet exactly the same quality and safety standards and have the same effect as the original branded medicine.
Are Generic Medicines Different to the Original Branded Medicine?
Yes because trademark laws prohibit the generic medicine from looking exactly the same as the original medicine. If a generic medicine is placed beside the original medicine it may look very different. The generic versions of the original medicine may have different shapes, sizes, colours, flavours or combinations of inactive ingredients when compared to the original medicine. The generic medicine may also come in a different packet, box or bottle. However the IMB ensures that the generic medicines must work in the same way as the original medicine.
Why are Generic Medicines Cheaper than the Original Branded Medicine?
Generic medicines usually cost less than the original branded medicines because the company manufacturing the generic medicine did not spend money developing and marketing the drug. An example is the antibiotic Augmentin developed by Beecham now part of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Beecham invented the drug in 1977, obtaining a patent in 1984 which expired in 2003. GSK spent substantial amounts of money on research, developing, promoting and marketing the drug. Since the patent was filed the ingredients and their proportions for Augmentin are available to anyone. This allowed competitors such as Clonmel Healthcare to develop and then market their generic equivalent, Clavamel, when the patent of Augmentin expired. Therefore Clonmel Healthcare has incurred much less cost than GSK and can sell the generic drug for less. This allows patients to save money on their medicines.
For detailed information on generic medicines you can read an Irish Medicines Board leaflet here.