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Generic or Brand Name Drugs?

Often when you go to the pharmacy to pick up your medication the pharmacist will ask if you would like the generic brand of that particular medication.

What are generic drugs?

Medications have two names. The name of the active ingredient of the drug and the brand name of the drug that the company gives it for promotional and marketing purposes.

Generic drugs are copies of the brand name medication. Generic drugs contain the same active ingredient of a brand name medication but they look different and are cheaper.

Generic drugs are safe and just as effective as brand name medications. Generic drugs have the same pharmacological effects as brand name medications but they can contain different inactive ingredients.

The medication may look a different size, shape or colour.

Know the active ingredient of a drug

To avoid confusion between generic drugs and brand name drugs, get to know the active ingredient of a drug. Look out for this component on the labeling. It is usually in brackets below the brand name.

This is sometimes referred to as the "proper" name of a drug. The active ingredient is responsible for a drug's therapeutic effect.

A doctor may at times switch between brand name and generic drugs causing confusion and the risk of doubling up.

Often the brand name drugs are easier to remember or pronounce. Try and stick to the one brand or version of a drug each time.

Getting professional help with drugs

If you are unfamiliar with the name of a medicine the doctor has prescribed always ask your pharmacist or doctor if the prescription is for a different brand of a usual medication or a new medication altogether.

Different pharmacies will also stock varying brands of drugs so it is important that a person not "pharmacy shop" by getting scripts filled at whatever pharmacy is close by at the time.

Ask your pharmacist to write clear guidelines and label your medication in big type, highlighting the active ingredient of the drug and with clear instructions. If you are unsure of any medication talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

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