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Why does a generic medicine look different from a branded medicine?

Why does a generic medicine look different from a branded medicine?

Before going directly into why generic medicines look different from branded medicines, we should first know what these generic and branded medicines are. So, to start with, let us look at what is branded medicine. 

Branded medicines are the original medicine that is manufactured under the name of the brand or company which does research on their composition, patents the composition and manufactures it. After the manufacturing is completed following thorough research, the company names the drug on its brand name and then sends it for approval to the institutions of its country of origin which deals with the safety and quality check of the medicines like the FDA in the US.  Following the approval received by the company, the medicine composition is patented by the company. This makes them suffer a huge cost and thus, the cost of the brand medicines is very high. Alongside this, this patenting of the medicine provides the company security that till the patent is there, only the original company can sell the brand drug for the specific purpose. This also allows the company to spend sums on the advertisement of the drug and sell them in the local markets with the guarantee of safety, efficiency, and quality.  Now when the patent of the brand drug has expired, then using the same active ingredients, the company itself and the other companies can produce an alternative version of the brand drug. These are known as generic drugs. Generic drugs are alternatives for the particular branded drugs available in the market. They contain the same effectiveness, active component, and safety as the brand drug, but they are different from each other only in their appearance.

Generic medicine looks different from the branded medicine

Since generic medicines are made of the same active component as branded medicine, so to differentiate from branded medicine, the generic drugs are given differentiations based on their looks. Since, the looks of the medicine like its appearance, color, and flavor don’t have any impact on the quality and safety of the medicine, so they are provided with different appearances.  Other than these, generic medicines are known well for providing the same level of benefits to the users as brand medicines. Also, the side effects of generic medicines are also found to be the same as the brand drugs. But the difference is in the inactive component content of the generic drugs. They possess a different inactive ingredient than that is present in the brand drug. This also provides an edge for generic drugs to reduce their cost.  So, finally, we can see that since the functionality and advantages of generic medicines are exactly of the same kind as that of brand medicines, so to differentiate them from the real brand name, the looks of the generic drug are varied.

Even though there are present around multiple of generic medicine for the same brand drug, so each generic alternative must have a different identity to create a market for itself. Therefore, not just the generic drugs look different from brand drugs, but also they look different from similar generic drugs manufactured by other companies.

Approvals provided by FDA

FDA or Food and Drug Agency is a federal agency of the United States that looks into the safety and quality of generic drugs and then only they provide approvals to the companies for selling their drugs in the market. FDA wants that the generic medicines produced must be identical to the bioequivalent range of their brand drugs. This is done to ensure the almost exact similarity in the properties of the generic drugs.

To ensure the quality of generic drugs, the FDA in the US continuously keeps its eyes on the approved generic drugs. It takes care of monitoring and investigating all the negative patient side effects and reactions. In any case, if any form of the problem is found, then FDA experts perform thorough testing and analysis of the drugs and provide a thorough recommendation for changes to the manufacturers. Besides, the FDA also provides health advisory notices and awareness events for the patients to make them aware of the various generic drugs present and their qualities.

Before providing approval to the applications submitted for a generic drug as a substitute for any brand drug, FDA looks into the following points while analyzing. Some of these points are mentioned below.

  • A generic drug has the same strength as a brand drug.
  • The inactive ingredients used in the generic drug must be of acceptable quality and standard.
  • The expiry time of the generic drug must be the same amount of time as the brand name.
  • The containers used for the carriage of the generics must be appropriate.
  • Generics must address the relevant patents on their labels and should use the same kind of label as the brand drugs.
  • Strict specifications are followed while producing generic drugs. The drugs must contain the highest quality, purity, and effectiveness as the brand drugs.

Once all these qualities are met by the applicant’s generic drug, approval is provided by FDA for the distribution of the generic drug as a substitute for the brand-name drug in the market.

Approvals for the sale of generic medicines/drugs in India

In India for the sale of generic drugs, the companies must seek approval from the Drug advisory board of India. Only after approval from this board, the drugs are allowed to be sold and used in the Indian markets. Even the special, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization is present in India, which monitors the manufacturing of generic medicines in the country.  Not just this, the medicines are tested for checking their efficiency and to ensure the safety of the user. Alongside this, the special organization in India as mentioned above investigates the potential problems related to the drugs and provides suggestions to the manufacturing units, the public, and healthcare experts. Thus, after total checking and approval provided for a specific generic medicine, only the medicine is launched for use in the market.

Generic or branded, which is better

When it comes to deciding a better choice between the generic and brand drug, the complete decision-making should lie in the hands of the healthcare professional, prescribing the medicines.  Many types of research and studies have been conducted to find out, which, generic or branded drugs are beneficial for patients. The studies have found that although there is very little difference in the quality, efficiency, and safety between generic and branded drugs, some differences have been found in the health of the patients.  It is found in a study that those who totally rely on generic drugs for the treatment of their illness are found to suffer worse health outcomes than those who used branded drugs as well. But this is not the case everywhere; this outcome is more prevalent in cardiovascular issues and is found among the socioeconomically weaker section of society. This is because these people never look to go for buying branded drugs due to their very high cost and thus switch themselves to cheaper alternatives which are generic drugs. 

Still, a thorough study is left to be conducted before directly concluding which one will be better for the long run, branded drug or a generic drug. But still, we can say if there are no constraints on the affordability of the customer, then they should prefer brand names. But in case of economic constraints, the patient should consult with a doctor, who knows better about the different generic drugs and their illness. So, he will prescribe the best generic drug available for your purpose.

Benefits of generic drugs

Generic medicines as we know are the same active ingredient containing branded medicines, but the difference is visible in their appearance, packaging, and the name given to them. These are not provided in the market until the patent on the branded medicines is expired. After the expiry, the same company or other companies can move to produce generic medicines of the same medicine. 

Generic medicines are developed to ensure the availability of the medicine in the market even after the expiry of branded medicines’ patent and thus it has some of the major advantages due to which people choose them. Let us look at these benefits one by one.

Affordable price

Generic medicines are significantly low in cost than their branded drug counterparts. This makes them very affordable to buy by the population. This low-cost nature of generic drugs comes from the fact that these drugs are produced using the same active component as the branded drug. This saves the cost of trials and tests and approvals for the generic drug company. 

Besides, generic drugs are not advertised. And the marketing policy used for their promotions is also very cost-friendly. This makes the company cut the cost of the marketing, advertisement, and approval of generic drugs. Thus, they are able to sell the drugs at such a huge price margin and make them available in the market at lower prices.

Easily available

For any branded drug, there are present around 12000 varieties of generic drugs. Each one of which is affordable and safe to use. Whenever you go out to buy a branded drug but it’s unavailable, you can easily find one of its alternative, generic drugs.  This easy availability of generic drugs provides the benefit that every patient should get the necessary treatment for the illness they are suffering from. Patients don’t have to wait for the procurement of branded drugs in order to take the medicine.

So, the ease of availability of generic drugs in the market benefits the customers to the highest level.  To further ensure that each citizen of India is aware of the presence of generic drugs in almost all common branded drugs, the Government of India has established the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadi Pariyojana (PMBJP). It works to aware the maximum population of the country about generic drugs and makes sure that in the coming future generic drugs related to maximum branded drugs be made available to citizens of India. 

Covers insurance benefits

Generic medicines are low in cost, thus they are very much affordable to almost everyone. This provides another benefit that most of these drugs are covered under various insurance policies provided by different companies. This is because of their low cost.  Insurance coverage means, you won’t have to pay for buying your generic drugs, but the insurance companies will pay for them. This will help you cut down your regular spending on medicines and thus provides you with an added advantage.  But care must be taken as this can vary based on the insurance company and their insurance policies. So, make sure you earn complete knowledge of the insurance policy and the drugs they cover, before buying them.

Safe and have quality

Generic drugs, as are made of the same active component as the branded drug, so they provide the equivalent level of quality as well. But the safety and quality of the generic medicine are ensured before introducing them in the market by providing them the license. The medicines are thoroughly checked, and after complete approval for their quality and safety, these medicines are given licenses.

  To ensure that only quality and safe generic drugs are sold in the Indian markets, the Government of India has a separate department. The Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadi Pariyojana takes care of the procurement of only quality medicines in the country. These drugs include only those which are manufactured by companies that are CE, FSSAI, and WHO-GMP certified. Thus, through proper checks on the medicines, Government ensures that they are manufactured following strict guidelines and are beneficial for the consumers.


Generic drugs are alternative drugs that are manufactured for serving the purpose the same purpose as the brand drugs. These are the cheaper alternatives that look different from the brand drugs but contain the same qualities as the brand drug. They have a variety of benefits that makes them so popular among the population.

  Even the health advisories of all the countries conduct awareness campaigns to spread awareness among people about these generics. This is done to ensure that everyone gets the appropriate medicine for their illnesses at a lower cost. Only thing is that generics are given different looks than the brand medicines to ensure their distinction from the brand drugs.

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