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Generic vs Fake medicine

Walk into any pharmacy nowadays in search of a certain drug prescribed by a doctor. If the price is too high, the pharmacist will tell you of yet another prescription drug that works just the same but comes cheaper than the one requested. As a consumer, you are advised to buy medice from licensed drug-stores and always be receipted showing the name of the drug bought.

Counterfeiting applies to both branded and generic products. These fake drugs may include products with or without  the correct ingredients, with deficient active ingredients or without active ingredients or with fake packaging. Sources of these fake drugs mostly originate from India, Colombia, Egypt, China and South America.

Do you buy generic medicines? I do because they are cheaper than the branded ones.But do you know why they’re cheaper or lest you mistake them for fake medicine? Is it because they are of less quality or less effective than branded medicines?

What is a generic medicine? It is basically a medicine that has gone off patent. It means that Pharmaceutical companies spend time and money on research and development of new medicines. Once they are able to come up with one that passes government health tests and standards, the pharmaceutical company will be given exclusive rights to manufacture and market the product globally for a period of around 20 years. This will allow them to recover their costs for research and development.


After that, the patent expires and the product can now be manufactured and sold by other companies. That is when medicines of different brands but same generic names come out.Generic medicine advocates believe that since the active ingredients is the same, then the quality, safety and efficacy of these drugs should also be the same as the originator of the branded pharmaceutical product.

The reason they are cheaper than their original counterparts is because manufacturers of generic medicines only need to cover its production and marketing costs. They did not invest on expensive research and development costs which the original pharmaceutical company did.

Note: you may not always buy generic medicines because there is a patent protection period for newly developed medicines. During these times, you have no choice but to buy the branded product of the pharmaceutical company.Though, this may be the case, it important for you to know if a medicine is already available as a generic product to enable to allow you to save money, specially on maintenance medicines.

So How do I know a fake medicine? From outside, the counterfeit pack looks similar to the original product and may be difficult to tell apart. Some packs even bear a batch number similar to one of the genuine batches.Contrary to what is stated on the label, there are differences between the packaging containing the genuine and counterfeit drug. The difference is on the blister pack, where the name of the manufacturer is indicated on the genuine pack but not on the pack holding the counterfeit.

Another difference is that the printing on the blister pack containing the counterfeit drugs fades easily on rubbing with a moist finger. On a package of the genuine drug, this does not happen. According to The World Health Organization definition, counterfeit drug is medicine which is intentionally and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity or source.


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