generic

Generic Medicines vs. Branded Medicines: A Conflict


Pharmaceutical industry plays an important role in the healthcare system of any country. India’s pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in the world with an estimated value of $41 billion. Pharma companies manufacture generic medicines as well as branded medicines. We know and have consumed branded medicines, most of us do not even know what generic medicines are and how these medicines differ from branded medicines. Consumers in the United States are mostly prescribed generic medicines. According to a report, 90% of the medicines prescribed by doctors in the US are generic. A surprising fact is that more than one third of these drugs are likely manufactured in India. Country’s ability to produce affordable generic drugs has led to its market reputation of being the “pharmacy of the world” as they say.

Generic medicines are upto 90% cheaper than the branded or patented medicines. But, is price the only factor of difference between generic and the latter variant of medicines. Do they really differ? Generic medicines are cheaper because the pharmaceutical companies who are into manufacturing it does not spend heavy expenses on its research and development unlike branded medicine companies.

Generic medicines do not differ from the branded medicines except in their prices. Generic drugs are as good as branded as far as the quality and efficacy is concerned. The reason why our doctors do not prescribe and chemists do not consider to dispense generic medicines is that they are lower in price, so the revenue earned by everyone in the supply chain is low. But this model is not building our healthcare system better, moreover it is preying upon people’s savings.

Indian pharmaceutical sector which is currently valued at US $41 billion is expected to grow to a $65 billion industry by 2024. We can’t boast about such developments unless the poorest of the poor in our country is able to afford medicines.

Surprisingly the Indian pharmaceuticals market is dominated hugely by generic drugs which constitute nearly 70 per cent of the market, whereas over the counter (OTC) medicines and patented drugs make up to 21 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively. The fact that we are exporting most of our generic medicines to other countries but promoting branded drugs in our own country is unfathomable.

Generic medicines are easily available online as well as over the counter, one such initiative we have come across is Zeelab Pharmacy (www.zeelabpharmcy.com) which is the largest pharmacy chain of India. It is selling generic medicines which are upto 90% cheaper than the market price of branded medicines.

We don’t see the 70% of generic medicines most often, but most of the branded medicines are promoted in the market by our doctors and every involved in the supply chain. The medicines that doctors prescribe to people suffering from various mild as well as chronic ailments are all branded. There are real life stories where people suffering from various diseases are left in trauma and a feeling that they were being exploited after they exhaust their money in expensive branded medicines.

Keeping in mind our current economic and healthcare scenario, this is the high time to ponder upon the betterment of our healthcare system. Switching to generic medicines can bring a revolution in our country’s medicine market. The bottom line is, all the stakeholders of our health industry if work together, can bring transformation in our healthcare system.