What generic name is all about

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By Dr. Victor Dumaguing

To Your Health

Friday, August 29, 2014


IN THE wake of the alarming increase in the death rates of Ebola in the West African nations of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and now Nigeria, the author has been deluged with questions about its cure or remedy. As the newspapers, TV and radio may have said, there is no specific medicine that has shown definitve cure for the disease, that is not one of the previous anti-viral medicines, not even the potent Ribavirin, has been shown to be effective in inducing cure. If at all, the recovery of the American doctor Kent Bratley, has been the result of an experimental drug, which obviously, has not been used on a wide scale.

Almost always, the next questions deal with generic medicines. Before giving my one-cent opinion, let's establish some basic facts. The generic name of the drug, also known as "non-proprietary" is the name that is recognized all over the world, not only in the medical world, meaning a non-medical professional may know it. That's why, some doctors, if just to make the whole concept simple, they tell their patients, generic name is the universal name of the drug.

On the other hand, tradenames or brand names are specific names, given to a particular drug to identify that drug as belonging to that particular drug company. It is called ' proprietary name" of the drug and it may not be known by doctors in other countries. Example is the generic name Amoxicillin trihydrate. In the Philippines, patients may buy it with the names Himox, Moxillin. However when the patient goes to another country and gets a respiratory tract infection and the attending doctor asks what were her past medicines, then the words Himox, Moxillin may not mean anything to him.

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However, if the patient mentions, Amoxicillin, then for sure, the doctor would give the available tradename of Amoxicillin in that country.

In the Philippines, in mid 80s, the Generics Act was passed into law requiring that all prescriptions should carry the generic name of the drug, giving the prescribing doctor the right to write a specific tradename of the drug, as long as the tradename or brandname is below the generic name and enclosed in a parenthesis. Yes, indeed, it's true that the first name written by doctors in their prescriptions is the generic name of the drug. However, contrary to the belief of many Filipinos, it does not necessarily mean that the patient will limit his/her choices of drugstores that sell generic medicines. Generic medicines are found in all drugstores, well almost all drugstores, so the patient may buy them at drugstores they have been paronzing before, or many a new drugstore in town. The moving spirit of the Generic Law is to give the Filipino patient the right to choose, which particular brand of the generic drug prescribed by the doctor to buy and from what drugstore. The bottomline is that generic name and generics are not the same.

Dear readers and friends, the author sincerely hopes that we have somehow clarified most of your questions!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 30, 2014.

Opinion

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