In a mini review, author Professor Roy G Beran explains how generics can be produced at a much lower cost than originator drugs .
The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘generic’ as meaning ‘Characteristic of or relating to a class or group of things; not specific: (of goods, especially medicinal drugs) having no brand name, not protected by a registered trademark; lacking imagination or individuality; predictable and unoriginal’ . Despite such essentially derogatory definition, prescription of generics is being mandated in Australia, when using electronic prescriptions [3, 4]. The rationale to enforced use of generic drug prescription of the active ingredients, within a given medication, is to respect economic consideration [5, 6].
The cost, from concept through to formulary inclusion, for any given originator medication, is estimated to be approximately US$2.7 billion . The average time required, from development to marketed medication, is ~7.3 years , with a range of between ~6 to >15 years , during which time the research and development (R & D) costs are borne by the relevant pharmaceutical company. There has been a concerted effort to reduce the perceived R & D costs to well below this figure of US$2.7 billion , but such consideration makes no allowance for the failed development of many conceptual products. More than 90% of chosen molecules, initially tested in animals, fail to proceed to human trials . Those questioning the R & D expenditure often ignore this cost , but to do this is often mistaken because, even at the animal testing stage, <10% of potential compounds advance to human trials  and, of these, a significant number still fail human trials. All of these costs must be included in the whole range of medications being developed by that R & D pharmaceutical company, to achieve equitable outcomes.
The cost of developing a generic drug competitor, when compared with those costs associated with an originator R & D medicine, is considerably lower than even their sale prices in developed nations would suggest , especially if developed in India, the home of many generic drug compounds .
Conflict of interest
The author of the research paper  declared that there was no conflict of interest.
Abstracted by Professor Roy G Beran, Neurology Department, Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool, Australia.
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1. Beran RG. Generic substitution in patients whose illness has a narrow therapeutic index, such as epilepsy. APHE. 2020;1(2):1-5.
2. Lexico. Generic. [www.lexico.com]. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from: www.lexico.com/definition/generic
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6. Dunne S, Shannon B, Dunne C, et al. A review of the differences and similarities between generic drugs and their originator counterparts, including economic benefits associated with usage of generic medicines, using Ireland as a case study. BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2013;14:1.
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8. Akhtar A. The flaws and human harms of animal experimentation. Camb Q Healthc Ethics. 2015;24(4):407-19.
9. Hill AM, Barber MJ, Gotham D. Estimated costs of production and potential prices for the WHO Essential Medicines List. BMJ Glob Health. 2018;3(1):e000571.
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