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Understanding generic drugs.

Do your patients/clients understand what generic drugs are? Do they think generics are less effective because they are cheaper?

While people may be uncertain about using generic drugs initially, research has shown that they are more likely to adhere to treatment when prescribed more affordable generic drugs. The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) has created a series of tools to help you explain the facts about generic drugs. The tools are available at:

The key facts are:

* Generic and brand name drugs are bioequivalent.

* Clinically important differences have not been reported in well-controlled trials.

* Generic drugs create savings that can be redirected elsewhere.

Bioequivalent drug formulations have the same bioavailability; that is, the same rate and extent of absorption. In Canada, generic and brand name drugs have identical active ingredients, and generic drugs must meet Health Canada's standards for bioequivalence. The CADTH tools provide more information about these standards.

Health Canada has set stricter bioequivalence requirements for a few drugs that are highly toxic or have a narrow therapeutic range. These are known as critical dose drugs. For some critical dose drugs such as antiepileptics and antiarrhythmics, there have been anecdotal reports of differences between brand name and generic drugs. However, you can reassure patients that controlled trials looking for increased toxicity or exacerbation of disease have consistently failed to show clinically important differences between brand name and generic drug use.

If you need written information to share with patients, consider using CADTH's Generic Drugs: Your Questions Answered. This easy-to-read handout, available in both English and French, covers similarities and differences between generic and brand name drugs, the reasons why generic drugs cost less, the Health Canada approval process, and more.

CADTH is an independent, not-for-profit agency funded by Canadian federal, provincial, and territorial governments to provide credible, impartial advice and evidence-based information about the effectiveness of drugs and other health technologies for the benefit of patients and for the sustainability of health care in Canada.

For additional information, please contact Stephanie Smith, CADTH Liaison Officer for New Brunswick, at 506-457-49 48 or visit

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Title Annotation:CADTH; Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health;
Author:Smith, Stephanie
Publication:Info Nursing
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 22, 2013
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