Generic Medicines

GENERIC MEDICINES

Your Questions Answered

  • You can trust generic medicines
  • Generics are approved by the Medicines Control Council
  • Generics and branded medicines are equally effective and safe
  • Generics cost less

WHAT ARE GENERIC MEDICINES?

  • A generic medicine
  • Contains the same active ingredients
  • Has the same dosage strength
  • Is safe
  • Is equally effective
  • And is therefore interchangeable with an original brand name product.

A generic medicine is identified either by its own brand name or by its internationally approved scientific name.

WHY GENERIC MEDICINES?

Generic medicines provide a major benefit to you as they ensure that you and your family have access to quality, safe and effective medicines while reducing your medicine costs and ultimately stretching your Medical Aid medicine benefits further. Generic medicines account for a major percentage of all prescriptions dispensed in Britain, according to their Department of Health, likewise in the USA.

ARE GENERIC MEDICINES APPROVED BY THE MEDICINES CONTROL COUNCIL?

In South Africa, all medicines including generics must be approved by the Medicines Control Council, an independent and impartial statutory council that exercises its powers in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act (101 of 1965).

WHY ARE GENERIC MEDICINES LESS EXPENSIVE?

  • Generic companies spend less money on advertising,
  • Promoting and  marketing their medicines
  • Their  development costs are also less and they employ highly
  • Efficient economies of scale in their manufacturing plant.

HOW ARE GENERICS DEVELOPED?

A company that first develops a new medicine is allowed to patent it, typically for up to 20 years. This allows the innovator 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.

ARE GENERIC MEDICINES AS EFFECTIVE AS BRANDED MEDICINES?

Generic medicines are subject to the same stringent controls as branded products. In fact branded and generic medicines are sometimes made by the same company.

Generic medicines 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.

The Medicines Control Council employs a team of doctors, scientists and pharmacists who check the product to ensure it is safety, quality and efficacy.

While the generic has the same key clinical characteristics as the branded product, it can be of a different shape or colour, or is packaged differently.

 DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GENERIC SUBSTITUTION?

The Medicines Control Amendment Act which came into force on May 2, 2003, places a legal obligation on person dispensing the medicine, either the pharmacist or the doctor,  to inform patients of generic medicine options.

ARE THERE HAZARDS TO GENERIC SUBSTITUTION?

Strict control of safety, quality and efficacy of medicines in South Africa means that generic substitution make good sense.  Many doctors already prescribe generically where they feel that the use of a generic rather than a branded medicine would be of equal benefit to their patients.

WHO ARE THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PHARMACEUTICAL MANUFACTURERS?

The NAPM represents the majority of wholly owned South African pharmaceutical manufacturers, some international companies with part South African ownership and as well as internationally owned generics manufacturers.

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