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BRANDED AND GENERIC MEDICINES

1. When a doctor is writing a prescription a consumer is buying an over-the-counter medicine, they may have a choice between a branded medicine and the generic version of that medicine. Generic medicines are sometimes cheaper than brand-name medicines, but the active ingredient (the ingredient that produces the therapeutic effect of the medicine) is the same in both. Once the license has been granted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the pharmaceutical company can then market the generic medicine under a brand name. The MHRA is a government body responsible for ensuring that all medicines that reach the UK market meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy. The company then has exclusive rights to market the medicine for the licensed uses for a certain period of time, usually about 10 to 12 years. This is known as a patent, and allows the drug company to recoup the costs of research and development of the new medicine, before other drug companies are allowed to produce it as well. Other drug companies are likely to be able to produce and sell the medicine at a cheaper rate, because the research and development has already been done.

2. Medicines also contain inactive ingredients, which are used to formulate the active ingredient into a tablet, liquid, cream or other preparation. These inactive ingredients are called excipients, and different manufacturers do not always use the same ones when formulating their product. This is why medicines containing the same active ingredient, but made by different manufacturers, may vary in appearance. The excipients used may create small differences between them, such as in colour, or the amount of time it takes for a tablet to dissolve in the gut and be absorbed into the bloodstream, but these differences are rarely significant, which is why generic and branded medicines are (with a few exceptions) interchangeable.

3. All high-street pharmacists are obliged by law to dispense whatever the doctor has written on the prescription. If your doctor has prescribed a medicine by its brand name, your pharmacist must dispense that brand. However, if a medicine has been prescribed by its generic name, your pharmacist can dispense whatever version of the medicine they have available, because each version will have the same therapeutic effect, regardless of whether one manufacturer makes the tablets a different shape or colour.

4. There are a few exceptions to this. There are a handful of medicines that your doctor must prescribe by the brand name because the inactive ingredients do affect the action of the medicine. These include:

  • modified-release theophylline for asthma, eg Nuelin SA, Slo-phyllin
  • modified-release nifedipine for angina and high blood pressure, eg Adalat retard, Coracten XL
  • lithium, which is a mood stabiliser for manic depression, eg Camcolit, Liskonum, Priadel

5. When you buy medicines without a prescription to treat minor ailments you can usually be sure that generic or own-brand medicines will be cheaper than their branded equivalents. As long as both medicines contain exactly the same active ingredients at the same strength (always check the packaging), the generic or own-brand medicine will ultimately have exactly the same effect as the branded one and thus could save you money. If you have any questions about buying branded or generic medicines over-the-counter you should ask your pharmacist for advice.

 

Exercise 16:Work with the group: Read the text once again and find out if the information

a) True

b) False

c) The text doesn’t consist of any information:

 

№ п\п Statement Answer
The generic name is the official medical name for the active ingredient of the medicine.  
Generic medicines are sometimes more expensive than brand-name medicines  
Medicines also contain inactive ingredients, which are used to formulate the active ingredient into a tablet, liquid, cream or other preparation.  
The company then has exclusive rights to market the medicine for the licensed uses for a certain period of time, usually about 12 to 14 years.  
Drug companies have the right to manufacture and market the generic drug, but they must market it under a different brand name, or under its generic name.  
Inactive ingredients are called excipients
The generic or own-brand medicines is cheaper than their branded equivalents
The generic or own-brand medicine will ultimately have exactly the same effect as the branded one

Exercise 17:Read the text once again and point out the abstract number of the following sentences:



1. MHRA approves the drug and gives it a license.

a) 1

b) 2

c) 3

d) 4

e) 5

2. If your doctor has prescribed a medicine by its brand name, and pharmacist must dispense that brand.

a) 1

b) 2

c) 3

d) 4

e) 5

3. The generic or own-brand medicines are cheaper than the branded equivalents.

a) 1

b) 2

c) 3

d) 4

e) 5

Exercise 18:Answer the questions:

1. What isMedicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency responsible for?

a) The cost of medicines

b) Safety, quality and efficacy

c) Produce the medicines


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