Myth: Generic Drugs Are Lower Quality and Less Safe than Brand Name Drugs
(2008; 2 pages)


To Shakespeare's Juliet, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. However, when it comes to prescription drugs and Canadians, there is a lot in a name after all. Although generic drugs are widely used in hospitals, and provincial drug programs try to persuade people to take generic versions of prescription drugs, research evidence suggests some feel uneasy about making the switch.

In addition to concerns generics are less safe and less effective than brand-name drugs, some patients worry generics cause too many side-effects and are not favoured by their physicians.

The problem is worsened by the fact few healthcare professionals initiate conversations with their patients about generic drugs. In addition, factors such as patient pressure, a lack of information about generic drugs, and loyalties to drug manufacturers may make physicians more apt to prescribe brand-name drugs, which may further instil doubts about generic medicines.

It all can leave Canadians wondering why provincial drug plans have adopted "generics-first" policies, where less-costly but equivalent generic drugs are substituted for brand-name medicines. In addition, they may worry that quality and safety are being compromised for the sake of the bottom line.

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