Talking Medicine: What do you know about branded and generic drugs?
Posted Monday, October 28 2013 at 01:00
In marketing terms, a brand can be something that for instance defines a specific product. But in the world of drugs, what does a brand mean?
As you can imagine, there are several pharmaceutical companies out there carrying out research aimed at inventing new drugs. The process of inventing these drugs goes through four stages, although it takes only up to the third stage, after satisfactorily meeting all the requirements for the drug to be marketed.
This of course is time consuming, and on average can take 10 years or more. Sometimes, companies go back to the drawing board and make adjustments or improvements depending on the properties of the drug in question. It is this type of drug that is known as a brand name, or an innovator drug.
They are called brands because they are considered original, and the companies that discover them are often entitled to a patent that allows them to exclusively sell the drug.
These exclusive rights last for 10 years.
Important to note however, is that these patents do not apply to anti-retroviral drugs. Therefore, after the patent has elapsed, other pharmaceutical companies can manufacture the same medicine, often called generic drugs.
However, these companies have to carry out studies called bioequivalence studies, especially for those drugs that are taken orally.
For a drug to work well, it must meet certain requirements.
This includes bioavailability, or the rate and extent to which the drug can be distributed in the body. It is this kind of studies that is usually subjected to generic drugs, in order to ensure that they meet all the set standards.
It is recommended that a good generic drug must have a score of between 80 and 125 per cent of the brand drug product.
One thing we should note is that if all standards are met, a brand drug is good as a generic, and therefore there should be no worry in taking them
The writer is a pharmacist