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Branded vs Generic Drugs: Is One Better Than the Other?

When Biogesic and Bioflu are hard to find.
by Pia Regalado
6 hours ago
Photo/s: Shutterstock

Generic drugs are just as effective as branded ones, the Department of Health reminded the public on Thursday, as popular paracetamol brands like Biogesic and Bioflu remain hard to find during the Omicron surge.

If Biogesic is not available, consider buying generic paracetamol, the DOH said. Authorities earlier this week capped the maximum number of tablets that individuals and households can buy.

"Ang generic naparacetamol ay walang pinagkaiba sa branded counterpart nito," the DOH said.

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There are 454 kinds of paracetamol with different dosages registered under the Food and Drug Administration, the department said.

When it comes to picking between branded or generics, it all boils down to the needs of the consumer, the Makati Medical Center said. Here's what you should know about branded and generic medicines:

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Are branded drugs more effective vs generic?

Some branded medicines are thought to be the original or pioneer drug because their manufacturers invested in research to make them commercially available for the first time, Makati Medical said. At this stage, it's called an innovator drug.

When the patent for these medicines expire however, other companies can create a generic version.

Both generic and branded drugs must meet the following criteria to receive FDA approval, the U.S. FDA said:

  • The active ingredient in the generic medicine is the same as in the brand-name drug/innovator drug.
  • The generic medicine has the same strength, dosage form (such as a tablet or an injectable), and route of administration (such as oral or topical).
  • The generic medicine is manufactured under the same strict standards as the brand-name medicine.
  • The label is the same as the brand-name medicine's label (with certain exceptions).
    The generic medicine is bioequivalent to the brand-name medicine.
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Generic or branded medicines are safe to use long as it has a FDA certification. Generic medicines are not counterfeit. However, both branded and generic medicines can be faked, FDA Philippines said.


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Are generic drugs less effective because they're cheaper?

Some branded paracetamol could cost as high as P5.50 per tablet, while generics could go as low as P1.25 per tablet, the DOH said, citing market survey data as of Jan. 7.

Equating price with efficacy is misconception, MMC said. Generic drugs are cheaper because their manufacturers did not pay for research, marketing and patent. Health insurance coverage also promotes the use of generics due to lower costs.

Because many manufacturers can create generic versions of a drug like paracetamol and mefenamic acid, it can be widely available in the market, MMC said.

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It could be easy for a person taking multiple medicines to mix up tablets because generic drugs don't have a "branded" or distinct look people are used to seeing, MMC said.

To check if the product is registered with the FDA, visit its verification portal here:

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