The nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturing sector has begun to sensitize the public about the difference between generic medicines and substandard or fake products. According to them, some pharmacies have over the years complained about the posturing of the public concerning generic products making it difficult for them to stock them, especially those produced locally.
The development is not only adversely affecting the sector but also the health of the public as some who shy away from getting generic products delay in recuperating from their illment or in some instances have their health condition deteriorating.
A generic drug is a medication created to be the same as an existing approved brand-name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, and performance characteristics. Generic medicines work the same as brand-name medicines.
A pharmacist, Kofi Siaw lamented to the paper that; “Many times when people come here and we tell them that we don’t have the brand they are asking for but we have the same product of a different brand they do not get us. Sometimes the brand they are asking for is already a generic product and even with that they do not want to buy another generic product even after you have taken time to explain.”
The Executive Secretary of PMAG, Lucia Addae in an interview with the paper said that more education and sensitization is needed to make the public know the difference; “Fake medicines are medicines that are substandard. Medicines that contain the wrong quantities either low or high molecules in a product. That is not the case for a generic product.
Original products mean that a company has developed a molecule, let’s say paracetamol and has gone through the process of doing their clinical trial, stage three, they have had human beings take the product and if they had headache or fever, it has resolved after the stipulated time when they took the paracetamol.
In some places, it takes up to 20 years for a company to lose the patency of that product or molecule. So, let’s say after 20 years when you lost patency for that paracetamol, another company can use another process can and get access to that intellectual property to manufacture the medicine.
What it means is that they will not pay scientists to start making the product from scratch, they would not have to do clinical trials, they would not have to invest heavily into research and development, all they need to is take the molecule, the API, the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient and they formulate it into a suspension, syrup or tablet. So, drugs of this nature are fairly or moderately priced.”
She confidently added that: “Medicines in registered pharmacies are not fake, they are of the highest quality. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most regulated industries. They are regulated by the FDA, GSA has a share in there and the Pharmacy Council also regulates us.
Then we have several other institutions including private institutions like the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana and all of these stakeholders ensure that the right personnel and the right product are given to the right patient in the right quantities and the right doses; these generic medicines cannot fake.
Another pharmacist, Richard Ntim made noted that the difference in pricing can be attributed to the cost incurred in manufacturing or importing the product. He explained that, some products get more marketing and advertisement made for them than others, reflecting in the pricing. Adding that in some cases as well, if the product is from the original producers, the company that invested in getting the scientists, testing all the way to formulate the molecule, “and so they have invested hugely in the medicine and therefore the price of the product would not be the same as someone who generically produced it even after it has lost its patency over the medicine.”