There is still confusion among doctors regarding the word “Generic”

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Confusion still prevails among doctors as to what does the word “Generic” mean. I have tried to explain what is a generic drug as below.

There are two types of drugs – patented or generic.

The patented drugs are introduced in the market by the original company that researched the basic molecule. Let us take the example of Pfizer, which introduced two original molecules – Amlodipine and Sildenafil – and launched them in the international market as Amlogard (Amlodipine) and Viagra (Sildenafil). Being their research molecules, Pfizer had exclusive rights for 10 years based on their patent. These drugs are called patented drugs and the pharmaceutical company will have exclusive rights to them till the patent expires.

After 10 years as the patent period expires, other companies can also market these molecules under their own brand name or as generic molecules. These are called non-patented generic version of the drugs.

There is no difference by law in the quality of generic or patent versions of the drugs.

For example, amlodipine in India is still available as Amlogard (Pfizer) @ Rs. 8/-; however, Dr. Reddy’s Lab also markets it as Stamlo, at less than Re.1/-. Similarly, Viagra (Sildenafil) was introduced @ Rs 600/- during the term of the patent, but the generic version is now available at less than Rs. 25/-.

When we are asked to write generic name of the drug/s, this means that we should write the generic version of the drug/s and not the patented drug/s still marketed in India.

Prescribing Amlogard or Viagra, when the generic Indian versions are available, cannot be justified. The generic version will be available at fraction of a cost than the patented versions.

Let us take another example of the patented drug Clopidogrel, which is available as Plavix (original drug) and Deplatt, the Indian generic version. Plavix costs Rs.100/- and Deplatt Rs 5/-.

Why write imported patented versions, when Indian generic versions are available.

India is the largest exporter of generic versions of the drugs in the world as they can manufacture drugs at fraction of a cost compared to international brands.

The word ‘Brand’ has nothing to do with the words ‘generic’ or ‘patented’ drugs.

In India, generic versions of drugs can be sold in the name of molecule (generic-generic) or brand (generic-brand).

The only thing that the Indian Medical Association (IMA) wants is that all generic versions of drugs in India should be permitted to be sold only at one price by one company. At present, the generic versions are being sold at three different prices (generic-generic, trade-generic and branded-generic) by the same company.

Dr KK Aggarwal
National President IMA & HCFI