13. What is a generic medicine?

A generic medicine is a medicine whose active ingredient is identical to the active ingredient in a patented medicine that is out of patent.

In the USA medicine Patents provide for 20 years of protection and are applied at the start of a medicines development making the actual patent protection once the medicine is marketed less than 10 years. The developer gives the new medicine a unique name known as the “brand name” of the medicine.

When the 20 year patent protection expires the company no longer has a monopoly on the medicine and other companies can produce copies. These copies are called Generic medicines.

They have the same “dose form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics, and intended use” as the original patented medicine.

They may have different inactive ingredients and have a different colour and shape from the patented medicine but this should not affect the effectiveness or quality of the generic medicine.

All generic medicines must pass the same quality standards as the original patented medicine and are manufactured by government approved companies.

Because generic medicine companies do not have research and development costs they can manufacture and market generic medicines considerably cheaper than the patented medicine companies. For this reason a major portion of our prescription medicines are generic medicines enabling our government to get maximum value from the health budget.

12. What if I take too much medicine/overdose?

If you suspect an overdose immediately phone The National poisons centre. New Zealand: 0800 764 766 or 111 Australia: 13 11 26 or 000 All med+info leaflets have a prominent text box in section 5 explaining what to do if an overdose or allergic reaction is suspected. If an overdose is life threatening we print the usual overdose signs in the text box.

11. What does the medicine look like?

In section one on all med+info leaflets there is a clear description of what the medicine looks like and In addition there are images of most tablets and capsule. Always check that your medicine fits the med+info leaflet description, if it does not then ask your pharmacist to check that you have the correct medicine…

10. Will other health problems affect this medicine?

Yes other health problems will affectthe choice of medicine. Some medicines should not be taken by people who have a particular health problem. For example if you have a serious liver problem you may not be able to take some medicines that are processed by the liver. Some blood pressure medicines must not be taken by…

9. Will it cause problems with other medicines?

Because of their chemical nature medicines can and will react with each other and sometimes cause interaction problems. Some interaction problems are so serious that some medicines must never be taken together. Medicine interactions may reduce or increase the action of one or other of the interacting medicines and cause serious problems from mild to life threatening….

8. How should medicine be stored?

All medicine MUST be stored out of the reach and sight of children. Every year children die from eating medicines that were not kept out their reach and sight. All med+info leaflets medicines have the following phrase in two places. Keep all medicines out of children’s reach and sight If children are visiting grandparents, elderly…

7. Can I drink alcohol while taking medicine?

Never drink anything containing alcohol such as beer, wine, spirits, sherry, RMD’s, cider while on medication until you have read the alcohol section of your med+info leaflet, or asked your pharmacist or doctor if it safe to take them together. Taking alcohol while on medication can cause serious health problems: Make the medicines side effects…

6. Does food affect medicine?

Because we are all unique individuals is difficult to predict how an individual may react to a combination of food and medicine. For most people it will not be a problem and for others caution will be needed. Some medicines can cause stomach irritation if taken on an empty stomach, taking them with food usually…

5. Can I breastfeed if taking medicine?

When possible breast feeding is best for baby The breast feeding section of med+info leaflets provides the latest information for easy reference. Where there is evidence of a serious risk to the baby if the mother breast feeds and takes the medicine med+info leaflets advise not to breast feed while taking the medicine. The decision to take the…

4. What if I am pregnant or likely to get pregnant?

Medicines should only be taken during pregnancy if the benefit to the mother is thought to be greater than the risk to the unborn baby. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure what do. Women of child bearing age who could get pregnant must be aware that many medicines may harm an unborn…