Brands vs Generics. Is branded medication always the best?
This article has been written and medically approved by Pharmacist Conor McSorley GPhC Reg No. 2223070
Many medicines you can buy over the counter or on prescription have at least two different names. You may see them on the shelf as either the brand name or the generic name, but what does this actually mean?
The brand name is created by the pharmaceutical company which has produced the product, whereas the generic name refers to the active ingredient that makes up the medicine. For example, Sildenafil is the generic name for the drug used to treat erectile dysfunction, however, the company which produces sildenafil, Pfizer, sell it under the brand name Viagra.
Brand names often carry with them an increased price for the same medication found in the generic. This is because, when a pharmaceutical company discovers a new drug they can take out a patent, which provides them with the exclusive rights to market the product under a brand name. When the patent expires, other pharmaceutical companies can then begin to market cheaper alternative versions under the generic name, which contain the same active ingredients as the brand.
Generic medication is often used on NHS prescriptions because they are just as effective for a fraction of the cost. This is the same as buying branded goods or the supermarkets cheaper own brand alternative – they both contain the same thing, but one is half the price!