Generic drugs for cancer patients: Effectively saves money up to 85%
Generic drugs for cancer- A cancer treatment costing INR 20 lakhs can be performed at as low as INR 3 lakhs, with the use of generic drugs. This is another effective way of significantly lowering expenditure and saving money during a cancer treatment. A cancer diagnosis brings in several difficulties to our lives – emotional, physical, and financial. It affects our emotional health as well as or families’, and caregivers’. Overwhelming physical distress and feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression are common during this life-changing experience. Apart from physical and emotional problems, a cancer diagnosis creates significant financial struggles. The anxiety of chances of survival and the side effects of the proposed treatment often dim the anticipation of financial strain.
Between 22 and 64 percent of patients with cancer report stress or worry about paying medical bills. More financial distress can lead to increased psychological distress, especially among cancer patients already at risk of significant emotional distress, anxiety, and depression.
As medical needs intensify, people face mounting medical bills on top of the regular day-to-day expenses like groceries and gas. The financial stress ramps up quickly. Millions are struggling with the exorbitant cost of cancer treatment in India, where the disease has swept out entire life savings and even forced some people to sell their homes. Although relatively cheaper than in the West, treatment for cancer remains unaffordable for poor and middle-class Indians, who often lack health insurance. Cancer treatment can become enormously expensive if it is detected late or if the screening was inadequate and the first treatment is wrong.
There are many ways to get financial support for cancer treatment in India. Some people are covered by health insurances. Some people approach friends and family for financial support when savings are exhausted. Many organisations also provide financial assistance to cancer patients. However, even with insurance or external financial support, prescriptions can be extremely expensive.
We all know that cancer treatment involves a lot of medicines. Prescription medicines can be costly, particularly when you are juggling several prescriptions. Purchasing generic drugs can be one way to save money. Generic drugs have the same active ingredients as those in branded drugs and are equally effective. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), generic drugs cost 80 to 85 per cent less than their branded counterparts.
Generic drugs are much cheaper than branded drugs and are supported by the Indian government, who made it mandatory for doctors to prescribe generic drugs. Generic medications are affordable copies of the licensed drugs that are sold after the drug manufacturer’s patent has expired. Such medications are dispensed under either a brand name or a salt name.
In this article, we will discuss in detail the use of generic drugs for cancer treatment, its effectiveness, and cost comparison with branded drugs.
First, let us understand the meaning of Branded drugs and Generic Medicine.
Branded drugs are those drugs that are invented, developed, and marketed by a pharmaceutical company. After a new drug has been discovered, the company must create a patent file to protect itself from copying and selling, from other businesses. Branded drugs are also known as brand name drugs, proprietary drugs, innovator drugs, or pioneering drugs.
Generic drugs are equivalents of brand name medicines with precisely the same dose, intended usage, results, side effects, route of administration, and strength as the original medicine. In other words, their pharmacological results are identical to those of their brand name counterparts.
Carboplatin is an example of a generic drug, used to treat breast cancer. Paraplatin is the brand name for carboplatin. Mitoxantrone is a generic medication, used for Leukaemia, while Novantrone is a brand name for the same medication.
Generic medications are only available after the patent mark has ended on the branded drug name. Patents can last up to 20 years on certain drugs. As the patent expires, different manufacturers can apply to the regulatory authorities for permission to produce and sell generic versions of the drug; and other companies can afford to make and sell it cheaper without the start-up costs for the drug development. When several firms start making and selling a product, the competition between them will push the price down even further.
How does a branded medicine become generic?
If a new pharmaceutical drug is developed and sold, a patent protects it for a limited period of time. When the patent-protected period expires, the other companies will be able to produce and sell the medication, if it has the same active pharmaceutical ingredients that its patented competitors have. The generic medication is cheaper because the manufacturer has not incurred any expenses comparable to the branded drug maker for the original research, testing and marketing.
Bioequivalent studies are carried out on generic medicines to ensure that the bioequivalence is the same as the branded drug. Two medications are bioequivalent if:
- The quantity and the limit of absorption do not show any significant differences.
- The degree of absorption shows no significant differences and no difference is intentional or non-medically relevant.
Reason why generic drugs are cheaper than branded drugs.
Generic drugs are cheaper because the manufacturers did not incur the expenses of developing and marketing a new drug. When a company introduces a new medicine to the market, the company has already invested substantial money on the drug’s research, development, marketing and promotion. A patent that provides exclusive right to sell the drug is issued to the firm that created the drug, as long as the patent is in place. However, no generic product can be produced during the period when its patent still protects the brand name.
Generic drugs aim to cost less than their brand-name equivalents because they do not have to replicate animal and clinical (human) trials needed by the brand-name drugs, to show safety and efficacy. In addition, the sale of a single product is often licensed for several generic drug applications; this generates competition on the marketplace, usually resulting in lower prices.
Reducing the cost of upfront research means that although generic medicines have the same pharmacological effect as their branded counterparts, they are usually sold at a considerably lower cost. Competition among many generic companies selling a single licensed product typically results in prices about 85% less than the brand name.
Effectiveness and safety of generic drugs compared to brand name drugs
Generic drugs are entirely safe, as they are strictly controlled and undergo a thorough review process before being accepted on the market.
Generic medications are as successful as branded drugs, because they contain the same active ingredients as well as the same dosage requirements. Both forms of drugs always function in the same way. Generic prescription drugs can only be marketed if they follow the same quality, safety and effectiveness requirements as the original branded medication.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), “A generic drug is approved only after it has met rigorous standards established by the FDA with respect to identity, strength, quality, purity, and potency. All generic manufacturing, packaging, and testing sites must pass the same quality standards as those of brand name drugs. The generic drug manufacturer must prove its drug is the same as (bioequivalent) to the brand name drug. For example, after the patient takes the generic drug, the amount of drug in the bloodstream is measured. If the levels of the drug in the bloodstream are the same as the levels found when the brand name drug is used, the generic drug will work the same.”
Generic drugs use the same active ingredient as the branded drugs. To show that the generic medication is absorbed into the systemic circulation to the same degree and at the same pace as the brand name drug, rigorous tests are needed. These must also follow the same requirements of purity, consistency, and strength as the product with the brand name. The Orange Book, by FDA, lists and updates generic drugs that follow these requirements. Standard chemotherapy medications also have to follow the same strict criteria.
Generic drug approval authority in India:
In India, the central regulatory authority, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) also known as Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), is vested with the responsibility of providing authorisations to new drugs.
How do regulatory bodies ensure efficacy of generic drugs?
A generic medication functions the same way as the brand-name counterpart and offers the same clinical benefit. This norm applies to all Generic Medicines licensed by the regulatory authorities. A generic medication is the same as a brand name drug in terms of dose, safety, effectiveness, strength, consistency and quality as well as how it is taken and should be used.
Regulatory authorities need drug makers to show that the generic medication can be substituted successfully and provide the same clinical outcome as the respective branded drugs. The regulatory bodies follow a rigorous review process to ensure that the generic medications proposed are compared to the brand name (or innovator) medicines:
- contain the same active ingredient;
- have the same strength;
- use the same dosage form (for instance, a tablet, capsule, or liquid); and
- use the same route of administration (for instance, oral, topical, or injectable).
View of Govt. of India on the use of generic drugs
Health authorities, in India, support the use of generic substitution of drugs. In April 2017, the Medical Council of India (MCI) issued an order, which stated that the doctors must prescribe medicines by using only generic names. This practice will fight with the misconceptions for the generic drugs amongst people, who perceive such drugs as of inferior quality and counterfeit of the branded drug. India is ranked as the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, and by exporting the medications, the pharmaceutical industry has managed to minimise healthcare costs for many nations.
How can ZenOnco.io help cancer patients, with generic drugs?
Chemotherapy is one of the most common treatments of cancer. The average cost of chemotherapy through IV, in India, is around ₹70,000– ₹1,05,000 per session. However, with the use of generic drugs, the cost can be reduced up to 85% less, depending on the type of drug. By this calculation, e.g., a ₹70,000 drug can be purchased at ₹10,500 only. Inexpensive chemotherapy drugs are one of the most critical factors for reducing treatment cost for a cancer patient.
The integrative oncology services of ZenOnco.io involves the use of FDA approved generic drugs for chemotherapy sessions, right at the comfort of your home.
We understand the strain of hospital visits during cancer treatment. Therefore, we provide chemotherapy sessions at home. ZenOnco.io’s chemo at-home is beneficial because:
- It reduces the cost of medicines by up to 85%, without compromising efficacy and safety of the drugs
- It reduces the expensive hospital charges
- You do not have to travel anywhere for your chemo sessions
We have a team of health care professionals who are specially trained for chemotherapy and are capable of handling any adverse effects. They will be present throughout your chemo session. We also have a team of consultant oncologist, who can provide medical consultation, if necessary, during the chemo sessions.
To know more about our chemo at-home services, please click here.