Meds and you

16 November 2009

Generics: introduction

Have you ever hesitated when your pharmacist offered you the option of generic substitution?

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Have you ever hesitated when your pharmacist offered you the option of generic substitution?

Given the price of some brand-name drugs, it is worth your while to consider generic drugs. Generic drugs can provide a less expensive way for people to obtain the medication they need.

In addition, it’s reassuring to know that, for the great majority of medicines, generic drugs offer the same safety and efficacy as their more expensive equivalents. There are only a few cases where the Medicines Control Council recommends that you should not substitute. The MCC requires that a generic drug deliver the same amount of the same active ingredient into the bloodstream at the same rate – and they’re very strict about this requirement.

Generic drugs may be up to 30% (and often more) cheaper than the brand-name. The SA government is pushing us into embracing more cost-effective alternatives, and some medical aids will often only pay for the cheaper drug – leaving you to pay the difference yourself if you insist on branded drugs.

Remember: it’s your choice and right to opt for a generic unless your doctor specifically specify that no substitution should be given – and even then you can challenge his decision. But always check with your doctor or pharmacist first before switching to a generic; it's important to know that a medication isn't on the 'don't substitute' list.

References:

  • United States Food and Drug Administration. Generic drugs: what you need to know. [online] 2002 [cited 2007 Jul 09]. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2002/502_generic.html
  • United States Food and Drug Administration. Savings from generic drugs purchased at retail pharmacies. [online] 2004 [cited 2007 Jul 09]. Available at http://www.fda.gov/cder/consumerinfo/savingsfromgenericdrugs.htm
  • United States Food and Drug Adminstration: Office of Generic Drugs. [online] 2007 [cited 2007 Jul 09]. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ogd/
  • SA Medicines Control Council. Guidelines on generic substitution. Government Gazette 2003;25145:183-5.

 

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