Generic Medicine

What is the difference between a Generic and brand labelled drug?

Not much, except for the name and the price. The products have the same ingredients.
A generic drug must have the same active ingredients, strength, and dosage form e.g. pill, liquid, injection etc. The generic drug also must be therapeutically equivalent. It must be chemically the same and exhibit the same medicinal effect.

Are Generic medicined as Effective as Branded?

Generic medicines are produced by companies who are subject to the same tight controls as companies who make branded products. In fact branded and generic medicines are often made by the same company.
Generic medicines contain the same active ingredients, are of the same dosage form, and are identical in strength to the original medicine. They are therapeutically equivalent to their branded equivalent. This means that they work in the same way in the body and are associated with the same risks and benefits of the original medicine. Different generic forms of the same medicine will not differ in their safety and clinical actions, from each other or their branded equivalent. The Government employs a team of doctors, scientists and pharmacists who check the product to ensure it has been made to a high quality and is safe and effective. In Ireland the licensing authority is the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) (

Why do Generic medicines sometimes look different?

Generic medicines may differ in their inactive ingredients – excipients – from the equivalent brand. This can affect the colour, shape, size and sometimes taste. This, however, is only the outward appearance and does not affect the active ingredient. The packaging will also look different. You may notice this if you take regular medicines and your present supply looks different. Discuss any concerns with your pharmacist.

Why are Generic Medicines Cheaper?

Drug companies spend millions of euro developing new drugs. This cost has to be passed on to consumers. Generic companies do not have the initial research and development costs the originator company has. This allows them to sell their medicines at a cheaper price. Generic products are not made to a lower standard. The IMB inspects manufacturers facilities to ensure all medicines, both branded and generic, are made to the same high standard.

What is the Benefit to me?

You will get the same high quality medicine but at a reduced price. Branded products can be as much as 60% more expensive than generic equivalents, so the savings to you can be very significant. If you do not have to pay for your medicines then you should be happy in the knowledge that the savings made will be used to fund other essential health services.