Generic Medicines: are they safe?

Are generic medicines safe?You’ve probably been to the pharmacy to have a prescription filled only to have a conversation that goes something like this:

Pharmacist: “Would you like a cheaper brand if it’s available?”

You: “Umm. What? A cheaper brand? Oh, um, I don’t know. Ah no, I’ll have the brand on the script, thanks.”

But what if that cheaper brand could do the same thing as the brand on the script, at a fraction of the price? Would you say ‘yes’ then?

 

Generic medicines — a bit like generic supermarket products

Just like supermarkets products have their generic equivalent, some medicines do as well. To understand why, you need to understand how medicines are developed.

After a pharmaceutical company develops a medicine, it takes out a patent on the product. This ensures that the company has the exclusive right to manufacture and sell that drug, meaning there is no competition from other pharmaceutical companies.

However, patents don’t last forever. When they expire, other drug companies are allowed to manufacture their own equivalent of the original medicine, in different packaging, providing these drugs are bioequivalent — that is, the medicine contains the same active ingredients. These medicines also meets the same government standards as the original medicine, for safety and efficiency. They are known as generic medicines.

 

Are generics the same as the original?

No. While generic medicines contain the same active ingredients as the original medication, and therefore have the same effect, some of the inactive substances may be different. For example:

  • binders and fillers (that hold tablets together)
  • flavourings
  • colourings
  • preservatives.

Are generic medicines safe?Most people will be able to take generic medications with no problems. However, some people may be allergic or intolerant to an ingredient the original branded medicine doesn’t contain. For example, some people may be lactose or gluten intolerant, or be allergic to some preservatives or colourings. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you.

It’s also worth noting that the potential side effects of the generic medication will be similar to the original one.

 

Should I take generics?

Overall, generic medicines are safe, efficient and can often save you money, but before taking them, ask your pharmacist the following five questions:

  1. Is it okay for me to choose a different brand of my medicine?
  2. What are the benefits and disadvantages for me if I use a different brand?
  3. Is there a difference in cost?
  4. Which of my usual medicines does this replace?
  5. What is the active ingredient in my medicine?

There are some generic medicines (such as warfarin), that may contain the same active ingredient but not be bioequivalent. In this case, stick with your usual brand. Your pharmacist should supply you with the brand that has been prescribed. Of course, if your doctor advises you to stick with one brand, then you should do so.

Most of the time, generic medicines are close enough to the original brand to be safe and effective. However, you have the final say in whether you take a generic substitute or the original medication.

For further information visit http://www.nps.org.au/topics/how-to-be-medicinewise/buying-medicines/generic-medicine-brands

 

The Write Way to Health blog is part of the portfolio of Write to the Point Communications.

 Melbourne health wrtier & bloger, copywriter & editor, researcher extraordinaire
Delivering high-quality health writing with exceptional customer service

 

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Women’s Health: What women worry about most

Women's Health Week 2016

Women can be good talkers, but when it comes to women’s health, we often don’t take the time to ask questions, seek out credible information and work on a sound plan of action.

As a result, many women have many fears and unanswered questions regarding their health.

 

Women’s Health Survey

Earlier this year, the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health talked to thousands of women across Australia to find out their greatest health fears and concerns. The result: a comprehensive survey that offers unique insights into women across the nation. It’s the only one of its kind in Australia.

The survey found the top five health concerns for Australian women are:

  • Weight management (23 per cent)
  • Cancer (17 per cent)
  • Mental and Emotional Health (15 per cent)
  • Menopause (9 per cent)
  • Chronic pain (8 per cent).

 

Women’s Health Week 2016

The survey is one of the largest national surveys in Australia with over 3,200 women and health professionals taking part. The unique insights gained through the survey have formed the basis for the annual Women’s Health Week, running from 5-9 September, 2016.

This is a week dedicated to all women across Australia, to focus on health, learn more and take action.

This year’s theme is Am I Normal?

It’s a question every woman asks at some stage of her life. During the five days of Women’s Health Week, topics will focus on:

  • Monday: What’s normal?
  • Tuesday: Body image – you are your own worst critic
  • Wednesday: Healthy weight – know the three Ss
  • Thursday: Mental health – what can you do?
  • Friday: Let’s talk about sex

This free, online health event will provide practical tips, resources and tools, as well as motivating videos and health advice from the experts.

To be involved, simply head over to the Women’s Health Week website, and subscribe.

And as a way to support the event, Write to the Point Communications will be bringing you a host of content specifically surrounding women’s health. To ensure you don’t miss a post, “like” us on Facebook, and subscribe to all notifications.

Further information about the event can be found at Women’s Health Week.