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Brand Name Medicine: Waste of Money?

Brand Name Medicine: Waste of Money?

   A recent health survey found that in 2014 alone, Canadians spent an astounding 33.9 billion dollars on pharmaceutical drugs1. With the cost of medicines slowly rising, pharmacists are giving their patients the same advice: buy generic medicine.
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What is generic medicine? Pharmacist Jaspreet Virdi explains that after a company gets approval for a new medicine, Health Canada awards them a “patent” that only allows that company to sell that drug for 20 years. This becomes the “brand name medicine.” After that patent expires, other companies may replicate the drug for sale as the “generic brand” version. Both brand name medicine and generic medicine go through the same approval standards by Health Canada before they are sold. Generic medicine must also have a bioequivalent amount of the active ingredient and must work in the bloodstream in the same way.

“The only real difference between is the price,” Virdi reveals. He explains how pharmacists suggest generic medicines whenever possible as they can achieve the same results without all the fancy packaging. “Brand names definitely deserve the credit for discovering new medications” he says passionately, “but in this economy, why not save a few dollars if you can use a cheaper version of the exact same thing?”

Quality is a big issue when it comes to medication: people want the top ingredients to ensure optimal health and safety. But what consumers have to remember is that it is the ingredient that needs to be high quality, not the brand’s name. Virdi reveals that almost every medication has a generic version with the same amount of the active ingredient. He explains that generic medicine brands can always be found shelved directly beside brand name medicines and advises consumers to always read both labels. “If the active ingredients are the same—in the same amount—you’re essentially getting the same medicine.”

   Below is a list of common over-the-counter medicines along with their cheaper generic versions. All medications and prices were found at Shoppers Drug Mart with all generic medications coming from their in-store brand “Life Brand”.

Now if you’re smart enough to put down that Staples flyer for the half-priced Dollar store equivalents, why not try one of these generic name medicines?

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One comment

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