Generic Drugs FAQs

Is it safe for me to use a generic medicine?
YES, Generic drugs are as good as branded medicine. A lot of research was carried out to ensure this. Reputable organizations such as US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO) have researched, approved and certified this type of medication.

Why should I be given generic medicine?
The active substance in generic is the equivalent to the original/brand medicine and is just as effective as brand medicine.

Why are generic medicines often cheaper than original medicines?
When developing new medicines, manufacturers of brand/original medicines conduct research to establish the safety of the active substance. The research also establishes for which patients will this medicine work? What is the right dosage? What are the possible side effects among others? Such mandatory research is expensive therefore impacting on the retail price of the original/brand medicine. Generic medicines contain the same active substance(s) as brand medicines. Since their efficacy and safety have already been demonstrated, less research is required and therefor time and money is saved.

See below steps on development of an original /brand medicine

STEP 1: Development of a new medicine by manufacturer A. This stage takes 7 to 10 years.

STEP 2: For a few years, manufacturer A. will be the only party allowed to sell the product. This is called a patent


STEP 3: Once the patent has expired, (after 3 years) other manufacturers are allowed to duplicate the brand /original medicine to a generic.


STEP 4: The government assesses the efficacy and safety of these generic medicines in the same way as the brand medicine.

STEP 5: Now both the brand medicine and the generic medicine are for sale.


How do I recognize a generic medicine?
Generic medicines can be hard to recognize. For instance, they are not allowed to have the same name as the brand/original medicine. This is why the name and packaging are different. Often (but not always) the manufacturer of a generic medicine will include the name of the active substance in the product’s name.

Why do generic medicines look different?
Manufacturers are free to decide what their pills, oral suspensions and inhalers looks like. Therefore, generic medicines may have a different colour, shape and taste from brand medicines. Manufacturers use different excipients to achieve this effect. Such excipients are not allowed to affect or negatively affect the efficacy of a medicine.

Can I safely switch between a brand and a generic medicine?
Generally, you can switch without any problems. Generic medicines are as good as brand medicines. However, it may take you a little while to get used to the new brand, particularly if you use more than one type of medicine and/or if you regularly switch from one brand to the next. Do you have any concerns? Or do you experience symptoms when you use a particular type of medicine? If so, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help or more information.

What do I do when I experience a side effect while taking my generic medicine?
Please contact your doctor or pharmacist if you experience any side effects. Together, an appropriate solution will be sought.