Sunday, September 27, 2009

Generic Drugs - can they overshadow branded Drugs

While miracles of modern medicine and brilliant pharmaceutical research have greatly improved quality of life and longevity, most of the time, these medicines are so expensive that a serious illness or accident can leave you quite broke! In such a situation, the increasing popularity of cheaper generic drugs among pharmacists is definitely something to smile about.

First, let us understand what generic drugs are. When a new drug is developed by a pharmaceutical company, it is immediately patented. These patents, typically, last for about 20 years. Once the patent expires, other pharmaceutical companies can, with permission from FDA, market an equivalent of the formula under its chemical or "generic" name. The generic drug must undergo stringent testing and meet strict standards set up in order to receive FDA approval. In a nutshell, FDA makes very sure that while there may be cosmetic or minor differences, the generic drug has essentially the same active ingredients, strength and dosage, labeling, and so on.

Consequently, Generic Drugs provide the same medicine as their branded counterparts, produce the same results, give the same relief; but, at a significantly lower cost. Statistically, generic drugs have definitely come of age, and are positioned to get more popular with every year. Sale of Generic drugs has been increasing by over 10% every year and, today, approx. 56% of all prescriptions dispensed(more than one billion) are generic - that is a huge growth, by any count. Of the top five pharmaceutical companies in USA today, based on the number of prescriptions dispensed, four are generic drug manufacturers, namely Novartis, Teva, Mylan and Watson. Of the approx. 11,000 drugs listed with FDA, 8400 have generic counterparts.

On an average, Generic Drugs cost between 30 to 80% less than their branded counterparts, saving US consumers $8 to $10 billion each year (study done by Congressional Budget Office). In order to compare costs of a generic drug vs. its branded counterpart, let us consider Cialis, a prescription drug used to treat Erectile Dysfunction. A pack of 20 pills of Generic Cialis (chemical name Tadalafil) 20mg costs approx. $160. Brand Cialis, for the same pack and strength, costs approx. $270. With the same benefits and same availability, why wouldn't you opt for the cheaper generic version of Cialis?

With an estimated growth of 13% predicted for the year 2006, generic drugs are definitely here to stay. With the huge savings they provide with no compromise in quality, and their increasing popularity among pharmacists, Generic Drugs are perfectly positioned to dominate the pharmaceuticals market and overshadow their more expensive branded counterparts.

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