How can we increase the effectiveness of generic medicines?
New Delhi : Generic medicine is the production of drugs that mimic branded drugs. A generic medicine is like a “Xerox copy” of the branded and patented drugs that we're used to being prescribed. As much as research has shown that generic medicine is created as identical to branded medicine, some medical research has shown that this may not be true. Main chemical composition may remain the same as that in name-brand drugs, but inactive ingredients differ. Research has shown that this may have certain adverse effects.
On the flip side, for countries like India, with the majority of its population struggling with low income and poverty, generic drugs come as a respite from hefty medical bills. Still, doctors and specialists in India refrain from prescribing these for fear of the smallest chance of side effects that may complicate symptoms further. Patients themselves demand the more expensive drugs in certain cases, believing in the efficacy of patented drugs rather than those that are their clones.
Telemedicine and Generic Drugs
Since 2017, DTC start-ups have been supplying medication to patients in the USA. DTC, or Direct-to-Consumer suppliers are gaining popularity, as they offer generic drugs to patients at lower prices. Telemedicine has been widely accepted as a means to diagnose and treat patients remotely, and its widespread use during the Coronavirus pandemic, and still today, has only gone up. What is telemedicine, you may ask. It is healthcare that is given remotely, without contact, through video calls and virtual interaction.
Telemedicine is particularly being applied to the acquisition of generic medicine, and patients are attracted to the ease of obtaining prescription drugs without physically meeting a physician. Generic drugs may be slow to convince people of their efficacy, but with more proof of their quality standards being met, most patients may move to buying them over expensive name-brand drugs. Generic drugs are being advertised through social media platforms, and viral marketing strategies are drawing people’s attention.
How Generic Medicines can be Effective
Last year in 2020, a telehealth start-up called Ro expanded its partnership with a giant in the pharmaceutical industry, Pfizer. Pfizer has a generic drug-producing arm that offers generic drugs similar to its branded versions through Ro. This is generic medicine for blood pressure and cholesterol. Ro has a virtual mail order pharmacy service, and is the conduit of Pfizer’s generic drugs Lipitor (to control cholesterol), and Norvasc (for hypertension). A plus point is that patients buy generic versions as they know they come from a drug giant, Pfizer, meeting all the official standards of safety and efficacy.
For generic drugs to be effective without adverse side effects, generic drugs must undergo thorough testing. To be effective in the treatment of specific illnesses, they have to contain as close to the ingredients in terms of chemical composition as name-brand drugs. More and diverse patient populations should be evaluated for efficacy of a generic drug. So far, this hasn’t been the case, and many factors may have rendered generic drug use ineffective, when that was the result of research. In India, far less number of people have been tested, but this must increase if generic drugs are to increase in efficacy. Only with more research and regulatory standards can improvements come. “Health for all” has been the battle cry of the W. H. O since its inception. With more than 50% of Indians living on 70 INR per day, health has to be made a priority, and medication must be able to reach the masses. Generic medication is a viable answer.
Health at your Doorstep
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