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What’s the Difference Between Generic and Branded Medicines?

generic vs branded drugs

Medical science continues to progress apace and there are now more treatments available than ever before. These days, it’s possible to access effective medicines that can treat everything from headaches to erectile dysfunction and hair loss.

Indeed, the sheer variety of treatments on offer from providers such as Walgreens, Walmart or LloydsPharmacy can be bamboozling. One of the issues that may confuse you is what differences there are, if any, between generic and branded medicines. This brief guide should help to put you in the picture.

The Facts
Medicines often have more than one name. Their generic name refers to the active ingredient present in the product. Meanwhile, the brand name is the trade name given to the medicine by the manufacturer. These monikers tend to be better known among the general public and they are selected by drug manufacturers because they are easy to recognise, pronounce and remember.

A classic example is Viagra. This is the title given by Pfizer to the medicine containing sildenafil, the active ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction.

Drug Development
When pharmaceutical firms discover a new drug that can be used to treat a condition, they have to get approval before they are able to sell it. If the product targets the US market, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating drugs and vaccines, while in the UK the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is assigned for this task. They do this by putting the drug through a series of clinical trials. If these tests show that the new treatment is safe, the FDA or MHRA issue a licence. Once this has been granted, the company can market the drug under a brand name. They then have exclusive rights to sell the medicine for a certain period of time to help them recoup the cost of developing it in the first place. These patents usually last for around 15 to 20 years.

After this time, other manufacturers have the right to produce and market the treatment. However, they have to do so under a different brand name or under its generic moniker.

The Final Product
The active ingredient in branded and generic medicines is the same, meaning they have the same effect on patients. However, in some cases the inactive ingredients may differ between the products. These variations can mean the drugs have different appearances or take more or less time to dissolve in the gut. Because of this, you may find you have a preference for one particular product. For example, you might find certain tablets easier to swallow because of their shape or coating.

However, in general the products are very similar. The biggest difference tends to lie in the cost. Branded medicines are generally more expensive than their generic equivalents. Money can be saved starting with the appointments. Having an online consultation is nowadays cheaper than visiting your doctor’s cabinet. Of course that such online sessions are only possible in case of mild health problems. Your doctor can diagnose your illness after hearing out your symptoms, prescribe drugs and even explain about their side-effects. Such a medical service can be found at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, for example.

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