Cheaper can be better says chemist

Chemist Jessica Cheong says generic brand medicine is just as effective as brand name ones.
Chemist Jessica Cheong says generic brand medicine is just as effective as brand name ones. Scottie Simmonds

GENERIC or brand name medicine is often a difficult question to answer when having a prescription filled.

But Bundaberg pharmacists have said there was no difference in the effectiveness of the two types of medication.

A recent Galaxy Poll found that nine out of 10 Australians had been offered the generic version at the pharmacist, but 55% said they did not ask about price before accepting the offer.

The poll also revealed that generic medicines could cause confusion and may not always be the cheaper alternative.

But The Chemist Warehouse pharmacist Jessica Cheong said a large majority of the time, the generic band would be cheaper than the original.

"The difference is the brand name does all the research and that is why they are more expensive," she said.

Ms Cheong said generic versions were created once the patent had lapsed on the original drug.

"The generic brand will use all the same active ingredients, so they are the just as effective," she said.

The generic brands are also tested extensively before going on sale to ensure the medication leaves the body with the same chemicals as the original brand.

Coral Coast Pharmacies partner David Holmes said the use of generic medication was supported by the government because it eased the burden on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

"It's a bit of a win-win for both the consumer and the government," he said.

Mr Holmes said one of the problems with generic medication was that they often differed in appearance from the brand name.

"It's a problem that we are aware of, that people might be taking double the dose because they think they are taking different things," he said.

Mr Holmes urged people to read the label or talk to their pharmacist if they were not sure.

"It is really a matter of the pharmacist making sure the person understands what they are taking," he said.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia national president Kos Sclavos said competition between the generic and branded drug makers put downward pressure on prices.

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