Do You Pay More for Branded Medicine?

I will never understand how 100 tablets of Panadol can cost ~$13 when 100 tables of Panamax can cost you ~$3 when they both have the same active ingredient of 500mg of paracetamol?

Other than if you have an issue swallowing tables and might need a ‘special coating/drinkable version/kids version’ to make it easier to swallow why do people pay premium for medicines when the active ingredient in the generic is the same?

Am I missing something? or is it just great marketing making people think the branded stuff is better?

Poll Options

  • 43
    Branded stuff is better
  • 501
    Generic is the same stuff as the branded stuff


  • +2

    I buy generic.
    My GF buys branded. She's worked in the food side of "fast moving consumer goods" for many years and claims the "home brand" goods have inferior ingredients to the branded. I'm not sure this carries across to medicine.

    I have worked with a guy that was the maintenance manager for a pharmaceutical company in Ryde and he says their branded and generic product was the same.

    • +2

      sure that might be the case for coles tinned tomatoes which might use cheap tomatoes grown in another country vs tomatoes grown in Australia

      but that is most definitely not the case for a medical product. you cant just make shit quality medical products and sell them in australia… this is not america

  • I don't like paying more for the same product.

  • +4

    I buy generic unless the packaging is rubbish. On one particular medicine the blister packaging is annoying as it damages the capsule when popping it out - even if you really try to be particularly careful. In that case I'd prefer to pay slightly more for less hassle.

    • +1

      There are a few medications where packaging is an issue. And it exists on both the original and the generic brands (ie some original branded packaging is crap, some it's the generic that's crap).

  • -3

    Check the country of origin.

    Some cheapo brands are manufactured in India.

    • +3

      From your comment, do you see this as an issue or a positive?

    • +4

      do you think the TGA would approve a drug to be sold in australia if they didnt believe the manufacturing process was legit and safe?

      india, china, iran, america..who cares? your just being racist - assuming made in india = crap

      • +1

        Yes they have done so.

        This is a common problem in the West.

        We have faith in our government bodies - such as the TGA - but a huge amount of the data the TGA follows is derived from the US-FDA.

        I would strongly suggest watching.

        As I wrote above, the TGA has been recalling many generics in the last few years that have been on-the-shelf for years if not decades that are contaminated or shown to be ineffective.

  • +4

    For panadol and antihistamine type drugs I go for generic. I was given an a antidepressant by my psych and the generic one gave me so many side effects. Apparently happens to a lot of her clients, it's not the active ingredients its all the other stuff. So I get branded for more "serious" problem drugs.

    • +1

      Generic lexapro didn’t even work for me. Had to go with the main brand.

      • +1

        You could maybe try a different brand of escitalopram as there is more than one generic available.

        Often pharmacies only carry particular generic brands which the manufacturer has made a deal with (so the pharmacy can make more money).

  • +4

    If you regularly take a lot of different meds, sometimes its easier to stick to the brand your used of using as it makes it easy for your routine etc.

    Also, some brands make it easier to split a tablet if your taking half.

  • +6

    I don't care what you studied. A pharmacist knows more than you do about drugs. Probably more than your GP, even.

    So listen to your pharmacist.

  • +1

    I usually ask my doctor if i can get the generic brand - it all depends on what i’m being prescribed

  • In Australia many prescribed generic medicine is just $ 2 cheaper then branded at that time I just go for branded as $ 2 is not a substantial savings, but otherwise I am happy with generic medicine from reputed suppliers. I have no issue where the medicine as made other then China as I doubt their quality.

    I know many time people has placebo effect, my MIL from overseas got a cough syrup from discount pharmacist and she felt that syrup is not giving relief and she insisted my wife to get another bottle of same brand from the pharmacist from Westfield and she insisted to accompany her to verify the purchase and she immediately found relief. So many time branded medicine have placebo effect that it's effective then generic and finally its how much you can afford to pay more.

    If any one is interested then see the Chinese movies on SBS on demand " Dying to survive" to understand how generic medicine from India is changing and giving hope to life of common people in china who are suffering from cancer.

    • There is not a substantial saving with generic medicine, as the reimbursement paid for drugs on the PBS is based on the average cost price of all brands.

      The name brand drugs drop their wholesale prices to remain on the PBS, and will either match or price a few dollars above the competition, based on their estimates of profit maximization.

      The exact same, name brand drugs cost a lot more in the USA, in some case hundreds of dollars more.

      For example 1x 3mL lantus insulin pen costs $88 USD at wallmart
      The Australian PBS pays $186 for FIVE pens at retail, and the Medicare card holder pays a fraction of that price.

  • I ALWAYS prefer generic medicine and I use quite a few as I’m not as young as I like to think I am. Having said that there are a lot of documented cases where some people get better results with branded products. Mostly it is put down to the placebo effect and in the cases of psychiatric patients trusting a brand can be pivotal in their ongoing treatment. So in summary you need to understand more about what the science is and if something works for you and you are afraid of changing brands then maybe stick with what you know. Mind over matter can make a huge difference to your health. My mind works for generic everything. When my Dr suggests a different medicine altogether I then question whether I want to change at all unless I need it.

  • +1

    I take the generic voltaren and nasonex but the generic ventolin never seems to last as long as the real stuff so I pay extra for it.

  • -3

    sheeple who believe the advertising hype from a marketing team with no official medical training buy branded / premium

    • +1

      ‘sheeple’. Bruh, that’s so woke. Did you just make that up?

  • I am not sure why Paracetamol has various price points, Do companies still do R&D on Paracetamol, Like fine tuning it all the time? If so that could I guess be the only reason other then management pay as to why it varies between companies, or maybe one company only makes Paracetamol and can push more of them out cheaper. A more respected company may be actively trying to make it better? but i am assuming R&D finished on Paracetamol like 50 years ago.

    • It’s just the delivery method such as coating, liquids etc or addition of other medicines that may enhance its effects. Caffeine or combined with other analgesics.

  • Do You Pay More for Branded Medicine?

    It depends on the colour of the packaging and if it goes well with our decor.

  • +1

    Personally, I do not notice the difference.

    My partner, however, much prefers the brand name (especially the "rapid absorption" versions) as the no-name brands take a long time to help her.
    This could be a placebo effect however… but still helps relieve symptoms.

  • A female single quack on hormone replacement therapy tells me that genuine Viagra is working much better than any non Pfizer brand. Waiting to get an appointment to see her….

  • +4

    Sometimes its the non medicinal component that is the problem. I was using an anti-inflamatory cream for a shoulder injury and thought I would try the generic. It smelled awful. Had it been on my ankle or something it would have been fine, but on my shoulder, every time I turned my head to the right I caught a whiff. Went back to the branded one.
    Other than that, its generic all the way.

    • Yeah for non-patent and non-prescription medicine (panadol, aspirin, steroid creams etc) I doubt there is any need for concern for generics.

      For some OTC and prescriptions though due to the nature of how drug patents work (they do not need to describe methodology only outcome of a substance), it can lead to poor outcomes, and then mix in unscrupulous foreign companies that will happily put in cheap fillers including clover or cellulose fibre (sawdust in most cases).

      Not to mention all the NDMA they've been finding in blood pressure drugs, antacids, creams, and anticoagulants

      If its something prescribed and important if the difference is only a few dollars more I would be choosing the name-brand, assuming its not contracted production.

      • If you look on the FDA website, that is only one of around 50 medications that they have requested a recall on (since 2016), there were plenty of brand name drugs/treatments on there as well.
        That is the job of the FDA and our TGA to keep track of medications and make sure the quality stays high.
        But your dollars, your choice I suppose (meaning consumer, not you specifically :) ).

        • -1

          Yes but unfortunately they have little jurisdiction in India and China.

          The FDA are technically allowed to send investigators if they are exporting to their country, but they can't do more than recalls locally or stopping imports at the border.

          They have no local jurisdiction to start investigations and many of the manufacturers use their own translators and "guides".

          Obfuscation is the name of the game.

          A recent report by the Government Accountability Office has raised serious concerns about the FDA’s foreign inspection program and whether it’s allowing overseas drug makers to conceal unsafe practices. The number of inspections performed by the agency has been falling since 2016, due to dozens of unfilled positions.

          The inspections that the FDA does perform are riddled with problems, according to the report. For example: because the FDA doesn’t have enough translators, inspectors are often forced to rely on the drug manufacturer to provide one – which, according to the report, “can raise questions about the accuracy of information FDA investigators collect.” And unlike domestic inspections, which are all unannounced, the vast majority of overseas firms have months of advance warning of an FDA visit, giving them plenty of time to prepare.

          The foreign manufacturers and officials have essentially hamstrung any ability for investigators to catch corruption, they need to announce upcoming inspections, they will be denied entry to areas, documents are untranslated etc.

  • The really cheap ones can be really large and the binders they use absorb moisture so can get stuck in throat easily. I like the Aldi paracetamol that come with a glossy coating and are small, cheap and not going to cause me to choke or get that feeling like it's stuck in throat when it went down.

    But with like with a lot of Aldi's products the last few years I'm waiting for them to get rid of or change supplier of something I used to enjoy to something sub standard.

  • +4

    I’m a pharmacist and also work in the industry now for a large pharmaceutical company. Sometimes there is a difference, other and most times there is not. For example some orally taken medicines may have a special coating which relate to how quickly its absorbed which do change efficacy of the medicines. Generally all the research and the clinical trials are done on the genuine medicine. Some respiratory medicines may use a different type of inhaler which are inferior to the genuine device as well which can change efficacy. So the answer is, yes sometimes it makes a difference and other-times no it does not. If the medicine is PBS listed, sometimes the price different may not be much anyway. It costs a lot of money to produce a medicine, often billions and often 10+ years if its a new molecule - I would also ask depending on what medicine you’re taking, some newer medicines are not available as a genetic yet. To be approved there needs to be some level of non inferiority to the older medicine as well - so often newer medicines ARE better with fewer adverse reactions, its just doctors are slow to adopt! If you’re on a medicine for a chronic condition, I would often suggest to ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is newer medicines available every few years.

    It’s also important to understand often the pharmacists often make more money on some generic medicines as well through volume deals, rebates etc. Of there is only a generic availability for many older medicines as well, and other times believe it or not the genuine producer of the medicine also makes a generic!

    Edit: Just on a few comments I read here about generics being of lesser quality - generics are fairly regulated in Australia so its not that a generic’s are made in some guys garage, its more related to individual differences in how a medicine works.

    • It’s also important to understand often the pharmacists often make more money on some generic medicines as well through volume deals, rebates etc.

      i knew it

    • sounds like the differences are trademark delivery methods or coatings which may impact the take up / acceptance by the body

      not that the active ingredient is inferior - as some people here are suggesting.

    • Thanks for the detailed explanation. My wife, a pharmacist, was tearing her hair out whilst reading the comments on this thread! You've summed it up really well.

    • As a piggyback off your comment about drug development, some generic manufacturers don't fund drug development whereas the originator brands tend to fund the research and development of new drugs.

      Also, on the chemotherapy side of things, a lot of doctors and pharmacists are hesitant to recommend the generic/biosimilar brands for some treatments as they have very little data compared to the originator brands. Some of the originator brands for chemotherapy like MSD also have compassionate access schemes and cost share schemes to fund cancer treatments for patients where the molecule is not currently covered on the PBS for a particular indication. Whilst it does benefit the drug company as it provides them with data that can be used to eventually negotiate PBS funding for that particular indication, it does benefit the patients as well as it can extend life.

  • +1

    really depends on which drug.
    in the case of panadol and panamax, they're the same. and the difference is brand recognition and marketing, also profit margin for the pharmacy.

    some medications, the generic comes from the same company and just have different packaging, it's the company's way to not lose market share after their original patent runs out.

    Then there are some that are produced by dodgy generic pharma that is simply subpar in standard. I have actually seen packs of tablets with visible dirt in the blisters.

    It's good to know what brand of generic your pharmacy carries

    • +1

      Believe it or not panadol is a product that is more competitive; I would be lucky to make more than 50 cents on Panadol at my pharmacy.

      • +1

        Yeah should’ve said ‘profit margin for the manufacturer’.

      • +1

        We lose money selling basic Panadol at our pharmacy, Panadol is worse than when clients buy a $1.00 gift card, pay by Amex and ask for a bag.

        • Stop stocking the small qty boxes and competing with the supermarket …

          • @Shacktool: If only life was that easy. Margin on a $10-12 box of Panadol is still measured in cents.

  • Generic sertraline made me anxious and nauseous while Zoloft was perfect. My partner lost all of his libido on Zoloft but was fine on generic sertraline. Unfortunately our bodies process things differently so it's more a trial and error situation.

  • When I was in the public hospital and they give me Panamax not Panadol tablets. The tablet have the word "Panamax" on it. Does this answer your question?

  • +1

    I've generally always thought the same, however when i first started taking lexapro i was told by family and friends that have taken it before to get name brand instead of generic. I didn't believe them and got generic to save a buck but i remember about a month or 2 after i was still feeling incredibly down and anxious so i changed over to name brand and i started feeling much better and ever since i think i have felt better in general, this was a year ago when i started.

    I looked it up online if anyone else noticed the same thing and if there's any reason for it and it seems to be a common belief that it really does make a difference to certain people with this specific medication anyway. Even though the active ingredients are the same, the filler that is used to bind them together is different and the stuff in the generic one effects some people badly? Or something like that.

    Anyway i still get generic for most things but important stuff like my lexa i don't think it's worth saving the $10 a month or so. Even if it is just placebo i guess it's still worth it for me.

    • +1

      Antidepressants take awhile before they start to work, that said, if changing to a branded one works for you, it works for you.

    • Same. Lexapro was better for me in comparison to the generic. Don't know if it's related to effectiveness but when I was on a dose that required me to split the pill I noticed that the generic was crumbly whilst Lexapro wasn't.

  • You'd be surprised how many people don't realise that Panadol and Panamax (any other home brand paracetamol for that matter) are the same thing. They think Panadol in itself is a unique medication when it isn't. You see Panadol branding plastered everywhere, on TV, bus stops, any form of media. The cost of the marketing is factored into the retail price for the Panadol brand. To your average consumer, they don't know any better.

  • My partner uses an inhaler for her asthma. See always used a branded version but tried a generic brand as it was cheaper but she really struggled with it, so went back to the original.

    • That’s common in the respiratory space. There is sometimes still patents on the “device” even if the lama/labas ICS molecules are off patent.

  • Generally speaking, it's a no from me.

    Unfortunately I have a long list of things in which most go into medcine that I'm allergic to. Every time I go on new medication it takes a fair chunk of time that I'm not going to get some adverse reaction. Even when checks are made, errors happen. Words like, "it has the same active agent" is far from it's identical and for me, it's not worth the time to go back to the doctor to check out if the new medication is safe for me, just to save a few dollars, especially when it's not some recurring medcine.

  • there are real cases, an inactive ingredient may trigger an adverse events, but most so called generic doesn't work are placebo effect. i have personally seen people uses 2 identical products (made by the same company, same factory, but a different name and packaging) and report back different effectiveness. Our minds is a powerful thing.

    • Very powerful. Placebo is often required in clinical trials now. And the placebo patients often see improvement!

      • I always wondered if it's possible to market placebos. Sell sugar pills under prescription for doctors to prescribe when patients demand a prescription for something that doesn't need one….

        • Yes and no. It would be a major scandal if your doctor prescribed a sugar pill and it turned out you suffered harm from not being treated. So I don't think that kind of outright deception will be popular for anyone.

          However, doctors do routinely prescribe genuine medications which are a placebo - knowingly or perhaps even not - they might just not be up to scratch with the latest research. For instance, Panadol is often prescribed for all sorts of pain, but many conditions, after placebo-controlled study, show absolutely no benefit. For instance, it doesn't help for lower back pain. However, it still gets prescribed. It's a very popular placebo.

  • +1

    Very rarely and most definitely not for paracetamol or ibuprofen.

  • It depends on the situation, but generally I'd go with the generic same drug option. And is way cheaper too, e.g. Nurofen vs Ibuprofen

    When will i chose the branded option ?- When medicine is needed urgently and the store only has the branded option.

  • Here's some third hand unreliable opinion on the Topic…..

    A number of years ago I socially met a sales representative of pharma medicine factory supplies and asked him this same question.

    He said he always goes generic.

    He said that normally all products are made in good clean factories, however name brands often open up makeshift "trailer" factories when demand for their product is high. He said they were often unsanitary and not as well cared for and he would prefer not to purchase name brand for this reason.

    • I work for large Pharma and a pharmacist. I have no idea what your friend is talking about. Often genuine producers do make generics as well.

  • +1

    This is an interesting video from Mike Mutzel:

    The drugs may list the same active ingredient, but how do you know for sure the quality control is just as good as a brand name? Does Australia regulate and test this?

    • Yes. Proof has to be presented that it’s a bioequivalent to the genuine. Does it mean it’s the same efficacy, not always.

      • +1

        How does that relate to quality control in an overseas factory?

        • Almost all drugs are made overseas - We don't make much in Australia. They have to present to the TGA to prove its as equivalent.

  • Your body wont understand that you paid the higher price to "target" a certain area, so if you buy Osteo Panadol 665mg $7.99 (96) or Panamax 500mg $2.99 (often on sale for $0.99) (100) you will get almost the same result.

    • In your specific example, that’s not the case. Osteo has a long acting modified released coating and is a higher dosage 665mg. There is a genetic or a few now that has a similar coating I believe on the market now.

  • I think it depends on the country as well. I used to get panadol for just $0.013 a tablet in overseas, generic paracetamol was about $0.006 a tablet (can't remember exactly).

  • When people are sick their decision making is often not prime. They'll walk into the grocery store or chemist and see the generic product for $10 less and think to themselves "I feel terrible, if the more expensive one makes me feel better for the sake of $10 it's worth it".

  • Merged from What’s the Difference between Generic and Branded Medication

    Hey all,

    Noticed the deal going on with Panamax which is considerably cheaper than say your name brand Panadol. I’m no pharmacist, but is there a difference between the two? They both share the same active ingredient. What’s the advantage of panadol over panamax?


    • +1

      Very little if any

      • +3

        The price.

    • +1

      This is a non-prescription drug so difference may be nothing. But I read somewhere for prescription medicine the active ingredient may vary by up to 20% for generics and non-active filler can be a little inferior as well. Moreover generics may not cost less or the cost difference is minimal of any. My wife takes cholesterol reducing medicine and there is no difference in cost at chemist warehouse so we buy the branded one.

    • +5

      Medically / efficacy wise there is no difference. The coatings might be 'nicer' or 'easier to swallow' or the binding agent might be different, but the active component is the same - therefore it does the same thing.

      • -3

        Chemically the same

        But no studies done to test the efficacy

    • +1

      The first requirement for any OzBargainer is to use Panamax for pain relief requirements. Thats covered off in OZB101.

      • Surely home brand paracetamol

    • +2

      The main difference is the generic won't appear on the market for several years (10 IIRC) after the original is released. Active ingredients have to be the same and the generic needs to pass testing showing it works exactly the same.

    • The advantage of panadol over panamax is paying more

    • About 20%

    • +1

      differences -

      1. Price
      2. Packaging
      3. Brand Name
    • Panamax defines the maximum size ship that can pass through the Panama Canal. These limits have been in place since the canal opened in 1914, but were redefined in 2009 when some larger locks were opened. But the new larger ships can only go through in daylight, and alternate with ships going in the other direction because one section of the canal isn't wide enough for two New Panamax ships to pass each other.

    • +1

      Over the counter meds largely the same. Prescription, active ingredients are the same but other ingredients used in manufacturing are slightly different - hence some people prefer a particular brand as you can have sensitivities or allergies to certain additives used in generic or brand name.

    • +2

      Developers of new pharmaceutical products get their development and testing costs back, and the opportunity to get a return on their considerable investment, by being granted a patent which prevents other companies simply copying them. They get 20 years of selling it under a brand name, and they can charge whatever they like. But when the patent runs out anyone with the capability to do so can copy them and sell a product based on the same active ingredient, but named and packaged differently, as a "generic" product. So the generic is not the latest new drug to treat whatever it is, and they will be sized and shaped and coloured and taste differently, but they should work exactly the same.

    • +2

      A generic medicine is another brand made by different manufacturer for the same medicine. Generic contains the same active ingredient as the existing medicine.

      It also have to be bioequivalent (if you take the same dose of a generic medicine or original brand, your body should have the same amount of active ingredient over the same period of time).

      Generic medicines are strictly monitored by TGA and have to meet the same standard of safety and effectiveness as the original brand.

      The differences between them could be the tablet appearance (colour, shape) and inactive ingredients (excipients) to make up the tablet.

  • Do you ever see store brand medications handed out in hospitals? I didn’t think so. It’s all generic. And yes I said STORE brand not prescription. That should be a clue.

  • Not medicine but years ago I was talking to a guy who's family make shampoo and he said the cheapest part of the product was the shampoo the most expensive part was the advertising

Login or Join to leave a comment