About Your Medicines
Next time you visit us you may be prescribed medicines which look different to your last supply. This may mean that the doctor has prescribed a generic medicine for you.
New drugs are developed by drug companies who patent them and give them a special brand name. This is so that other companies cannot copy them. It also helps people to remember the name of their medicine. The other name for a medicine is its generic name. One example of a generic medicine is paracetamol, which is commonly known by the brand name Panadol.
What is a Generic Medicine?
After the patent has run out for a branded medicine other companies can manufacture it under a generic name. The medicine is identical and just as safe and effective as the original branded product but it is usually much cheaper. Using generic medicines saves the NHS millions of pounds and allows money to be spent on you and other patients.
Why Do Generic Medicines Look Different?
The original colour and shape of branded medicines are sometimes included in the patent, so you may notice that your generic medicines are different in colour, size, shape and even taste. This does not alter the effect of the medicine. In some cases tablets and capsules have special coatings so that the medicine lasts longer in the body and the doctor may feel that it is best for you to stick to one brand.
Checklist For Patients
Discuss any worries about your medicines with your pharmacist or doctor. Know your medication by its generic name and strength. Take your prescription to the same pharmacy each time. Generic prescribing is simple and can save the NHS money. You and other patients can benefit from this extra money and the improvements to healthcare that it can bring.