Friday, May 20, 2011

India and patent protection of brand medications

India is a special case. By December 2004, there was no patent protection in India such as the developed countries know it. Patents could be filed only for the production process of the drugs. Since one and the same active ingredient can be manufactured with many methods, an Indian pharmaceutical company had to find or invent one of these many methods and it became able to bring its own version of the drug on the international market at bargain prices. That was of course a thorn in the side of the big pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer, which have spent a lot of time to conduct legal proceedings against the Indian producers, but these were usually decided in favor of the Indian producers.

Now for few years India has been a member of the WTO (World Trade Organization). All states of this organization have signed a TRIPS Agreement, and must accept inter alia, the patent law. For developing countries like India, there was a short a transitional period, which for India has been expired on 01.01.2005. Thus, now in India it is not so easy to produce generic drugs, whose patents have not expired. Only in a few cases such as for example disasters and epidemics, it should be allowed to produce generic drugs in their own country or to distribute to even poorer countries which have not their own pharmaceutical industry. This is just one of the reservations that make possible to produce generic copies of brand drugs. Another important clause is that India can produce any generics for brands patented before 1999 (or before 2004, I don’t know exactly), but only for domestic market. The official export of such medications is legally prohibited, but Indian government closes its eyes to it or maybe does not have sufficient legal ways to stop this export, since many medications have been exported as half-finished product, not as ready-made and packed pills. The final production of medications, made from imported Indian active ingredients is made in the point of destination that is on the local market. The Internet trade gives even better possibilities. An online pharmacy with Indian generics can be officially or implicitly intended for Indian citizens, but nobody prohibits to buy drugs at the site from abroad, i. e. from outside of India.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Is there difference between generics and originals?

Generics and originals differ in name, but often in the shape and color of drugs. It may be true that a red triangle equals to a blue diamond. Nevertheless, both tablets contain the same amount of the same active ingredient. In some cases amount of active ingredient in generics can be a little bigger or a little smaller, but the difference is unimportant. The largest part of any pill, both generic and original, is composed from filling materials such as magnesium stearate, cellulose and lactose. Generics also differ often in these non-active components from the original, and, as the name (“non-active”) says, actually can not produce their own action. Nevertheless there are people who are convinced that various generics would act differently with them. It is a perfect nonsense. The healing affect depends on active ingredients only. Fillers can have sometimes an allergic effect, but the original, brand medications do exactly the same. Some other people consider one generic drug as weaker than another, some say that only original drugs have effect with them and the thirds say that generics are better for them than the original. These facts happen, but are caused by self-suggestion, not by healing qualities of drugs, both generics and originals. However an individual can have personal intolerance to a specific filling component, even it is not allergic. Now a lactose intolerance is widespread among human population. It is known that about 20% of US population has more o less decreased lactase deficiency, that is the lack or small amount of enzyme that helps assimilate lactose in human body. So if a drug (independently of being generic or original) contains lactose as a filling component and a person has lactose intolerance then the taken drug could cause nausea or stomach pain which does not happen with other drug which does not have lactose in it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Which drugs are generic?

The question of generic drugs often comes up in many cases. More and more men and women try learn if dubious advertising of generic drugs on Internet is something harmful or on the contrary, something wholesome. So, I’ll write a series of posts, which contain the most important things about generic medicines. This is not to be understood as a call to order or to avoid ordering drugs without prescription and medical consultations on the Internet, but would serve to minimize the financial and health risks of those who can not stop anyway. I have to mention that the right choice can also to provide you with a profit comparing with shopping off-line.

Generic drugs are versions of a drug, manufactured by a different company than the original. Due to patent protection in developed countries, generic versions come on the market after the expiry of a period of 20 years. But generic versions can be also marketed before expiry of this time in countries where the specific drug is not protected by a patent. Anyway after 20 years, any pharmaceutical company gets right to manufacture a drug containing the same active ingredient, though under other brand name. For example, one of the world's largest generic drug manufacturers is German “Ratiopharm” company. It produces the drug “ASS” which contains the same active ingredient and in the same amount as the original "Aspirin" by Bayer and acts in exactly same way. Generics are usually a sight more cheaper because the manufacturers have no research and development costs, but just have to give new shape to already known and reliable active ingredient. Since the healing effect of generic drugs is the same you can buy them without any doubt even online. The only thing to know is the active ingredient. Having its name you can find dozens of different generic brands which are virtually the same drug. A very good tool to find a generic medicine by its active ingredient or vice versa is Medicine Name Finder provided by Australian Government. This web service helps to find the necessary medicine, but unfortunately its database is not too big.