10 Quick Facts about Generic Medicines

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1. A generic medicine on an interchangeable list meets the same standards of quality and safety as the original branded medicine.

2. Generic medicines have the same active ingredient as the original branded medicine.

3. As the generic version acts in the same way in the body, it is nearly always interchangeable with the original product. In other words, you can usually use either the original or the generic medicine to achieve the same effect or benefit.

4. Generic versions of a medicines may have a different colour, flavour or be a different shape, size or come in a different box, packet or bottle. However, none of these differences affect the way the medicine works.

5. Generic medicines can save money for patients and the health service. Generic medicines usually cost less than the original branded product. This is because manufacturers do not need to invest as much money in research, development and marketing as they would if they were producing an original medicine from scratch.

6. More and more people are using generic medicines in Ireland. For example, about 68% of all people taking atorvastatin, the first medicine affected by this new law, were already using a generic product when a reference price was implemented for this medicine.

7. When a pharmaceutical company develops a new original medicine, it takes out a patent. The new medicine usually has a unique name or brand. When a patent's time period ends, other pharmaceutical companies can make a similar version - a generic - of the original medicine.

8. The regulatory authority, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB), monitors the safety of medicines available in Ireland. The IMB aims to make sure that all medicines on the Irish market are safe, effective and high quality.

9. Generic medicines, like original medicines, must go through a number of checks to be sold in Ireland.

10. Generic medicines are more affordable for the HSE's drugs bills, which allows further investment in other healthcare priorities, and promotes innovation in the development of new medicines.