WHAT IS A GENERIC MEDICINE?
Generic medicines are medical drugs which have names decided on by an expert committee. It has an active ingredient that is used for a medical effect. However, there can be many names for the same drug. For example, paracetamol is a generic medicine. It is used to treat pain and fever. There are also other names for paracetamol such as Panadol or Calpol.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PANADOL, CALPOL AND PARACETAMOL?
Often nothing. The only difference should be the name. Pandadol and Calpol are brand names of paracetamol. This means that some drug companies make paracetamol and put their own label on it. Paracetamol, Panadol and Calpol should all have the same strength and be equally effective as each other. The only real difference is that generic drugs are a lot cheaper than branded drugs.
WHAT IS COUNTERFEIT MEDICINE?
Counterfeit medicine is illegal. It misleads the public. It wrongly labels drugs with something it is not. So, a counterfeit medicine is fake medicine. For example, counterfeit medicine for paracetamol may not even be paracetamol. It can be something completely different such as chalk, have no active ingredient and may even have very little paracetamol. Counterfeit medicine can target both generic and branded drugs.
People make counterfeit or fake medicine because they can get some profit out of selling it. People can make counterfeit medicine for a lot less money than making the real medicine. They can then sell it for the same price as real medicine and get a lot of money out of this illegal business.
WHY IS COUNTERFEIT MEDICINE BAD?
There are many reasons why counterfeit medicine is bad. Firstly, if you are sick and if you are not getting the correct medicine then you will not get better. Counterfeit medicine will not help your illness. In fact, by taking it, your illness can become even worse as nothing is being done to treat the disease.
Secondly, if there is a little bit of genuine medicine in the counterfeit medicine, this can be even worse. Why? It can cause resistance. Small doses of good medicine may not kill bacteria. The bacteria will soon learn how to overcome the effect of the good medicine because a small dose is not enough to kill a lot of the bacteria. It will take a long time for all the bacteria to be killed. By this time, the bacteria will have grown and caused more damage to the body.
Also, you cannot be sure what else is mixed in the counterfeit drug. It can be things that are dangerous to health or medicine that you should not be taking for example if you are allergic or pregnant. There have been cases of death caused by taking counterfeit medicine.
HOW CAN I TELL WHICH MEDICINE IS REAL AND WHICH IS FAKE?
People who make counterfeit medicine have become very good at making packaging look just like real medicine. Some signs can help to show that your medicine might be fake:
- It is crumbling easily (it easily breaks and becomes powder)
- It is an unusual colour to normal medicine
- The packaging looks broken
- Spelling on the label is wrong
HOW DO I GET GOOD QUALITY MEDICINE?
The best place to get good quality medicine is from a pharmacy that you know is good or from the doctors or nurses that you go to. Sadly, they may also be selling counterfeit drugs, so it is best to be careful. If you feel the medicine has negative effects (side effects) that you have not felt before, try to find good quality medicine from a trusted provider. The best thing is to be aware. You should be aware of where counterfeit drugs are usually sold such as market places and street shops and try to go for genuine sellers of generic or brand name drugs.
- One medicine can come in many names
- This can be generic names or brand names
- Both generic and brand names can be faked by counterfeit drugs
- Counterfeit drugs can make you sick
- To avoid counterfeit drugs, look for signs such as unusual texture and colour of tablets
- Go to good quality shops to get the correct medicine