Understanding generic medicines
What is a generic medicine?
When a company develops a new medicine, it will always have a generic name as well as a brand name.
- The generic name is the active ingredient in the medicine; for example, aspirin or ibuprofen.
- The brand name is the name that the manufacturer uses to actually market the product. The brand name helps customers recognise the product and tell it apart from other similar products.
During the development of a new medicine, the company will usually apply for a patent to protect it from being copied for a limited period of time, which could be up to twenty years. This gives the company the exclusive rights to manufacture and market the medicine, allowing them to recoup their research and development costs.
Once the patent expires, other companies can manufacture a copy of the medicine and either market the medicine using a different brand name, or sell it as a generic product, with only the name of the active ingredient on the packaging.
A generic copy of a medicine is bioequivalent to the original brand
A generic copy of a medicine contains the same active ingredients as the original branded medicine and is usually comparable in terms of its dosage, form (tablets or capsules etc.), strength and route of administration (how you take it). It must also be bioequivalent, which means its quality, intended use, safety and efficacy must be the same as the original version. However, developing a generic copy of a medicine takes much less time and costs much less than developing a new medicine, which means it can usually be sold at a lower price, which helps the NHS to save money on medicines, which can then be re-invested into other areas.
Generic medicines are strictly regulated
The manufacturing process of new medicines and generic copies is strictly regulated. Regulatory bodies, such as the FDA* and MHRA**, perform stringent inspections on the manufacturing facilities and processes of pharmaceutical companies. The aim of the inspections is to verify the facilities are compliant with the strict quality control standards of the countries where the medicines are marketed.
Wockhardt UK generics
Wockhardt UK is a leading supplier of generic pharmaceuticals to hospitals and pharmacies in the UK. We believe in supplying quality generic pharmaceutical products at a fair price, delivered where and when they are needed.
*Food and Drug Administration
**Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency