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Do generic drugs work like branded drugs? Here’s everything you need to know


What are the differences between generic and brand name drugs? And above all, do they work in the same way?

Generic drugs – also called equivalents – are those that have the same active ingredient and the same dosage as a branded drug . The marketing of these drugs occurs when the original consideration loses the patent, which in the EU is 20 years old, while in Italy it can even reach 38 years. The main difference between the two types of medicines is the economic one: the cost of a generic is much lower than a branded one. But does it work the same way? Apparently yes, but let’s find out more about the matter.

The truth about generic drugs

The Ministry of Health carries out numerous checks on equivalent drugs before they are placed on the market. Thanks to these controls, the bioequivalence of the medicine compared to the original one is guaranteed, i.e. its equal effectiveness.


Generic medicines have the same amount of active ingredient as that present in their “designer” counterpart. What can change is the presence of additives or other substances that have no pharmacological action – they may be absent or present in different quantities.

Original or generic drug: the requirements

Obviously, to be authorized and therefore on the market, these drugs must meet the requirements. As mentioned, the same dosage, the same active ingredient, the bioequivalence and the same pharmaceutical form. Furthermore, they must have a cost of at least 20% lower than the “brand” one.

Why are generic drugs cheaper?

About cost. Much of patients’ doubts about the safety and efficacy of equivalent medicines relate to their price , which is significantly lower than that of the original medicines. The fear is that a lower cost equates to a lower yield of the product.

In reality, it is a matter of petty economics. The original medicines are the result of long research and experimentation , the costs of which are reflected in the selling price. The generics, on the other hand, refer to the research already carried out at the time of the patent application , and their producers therefore incur much lower costs.

Are generic medicines dangerous?

Hence, there should be no fear when purchasing a generic drug. Often it is doctors or pharmacists who recommend the equivalent product , to allow patients to save money. However, the choice is up to the buyer, who can still decide to rely on the original drug. What matters is that he has been well informed about the existence of an equivalent , which guarantees the same active ingredient and the same efficacy.

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