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​Generic Medications - What is it for


What is a generic medication?
A generic medication is one that is made similar to its original brand-name medication for the same medical use:
• It contains the same active ingredient – the main component that gives a medication its effect and allows it to be used to treat a medical condition.
• It is tested against the same regulatory standards to ensure safety and effectiveness. 

In other words, a generic medication may be used in place of its original brand-name medication. Using the active ingredient paracetamol as an example, Panadol is an original brand-name and Paracil, a generic version.

Why are generic medications used?
 Generic medications are only available after a period of time where the original brand-name medication has been on the market exclusively.  Generics are generally more cost-effective than original brand-name medications as they do not need to recover the costs associated with bringing a new medication onto the market. This in turn can lead to cost savings for both you and our healthcare system

How can I be assured of the safety and quality of generic medications?
In Singapore, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) governs and regulates the safety and quality of medications. All medications licensed in Singapore are subjected to rigorous standards and stringent testing before they can be approved for use – this includes generic medications, which must meet these standards before they can be sold and prescribed.

As mandated by Singapore law, all medications including generic ones, will also be continually monitored by their respective drug companies and HSA for ongoing safety.

How are generic medications different from original brand-name medications?
Generic medications may have a different look from its original brand-name medication e.g. different packaging, size, shape, tablet markings. The non-active ingredients used to produce it e.g. colourings, sugars, starches may also be different.

However, these differences are expected to have minimal effect on how the medication works as it will still contain the same active ingredient as the original brand-name medication.

Do generic medications have the same potential side effects as the original brand-name medication?
As generic medication contains the same active ingredient as the original brand-name medication, it is likely to have the same possible side effects.

However, as the non-active ingredients used to produce generic medications may differ from original brand-name medications, it is possible that some people may develop an allergic reaction to it. Although this is rare, you will be advised to monitor for this.

What should I do if I require more information or have further concerns?
Do approach your doctor or pharmacist who can share more with you and answer any queries regarding the use of generic medications.



- A medication can be:
(1) Generic or (2) Original brand

  • Generic versions of many medications are widely used in Singapore and other parts of the world.
  • Generic medications might look different but will contain the same active ingredient as the original brand-name medications and are usually more cost-effective.
  • Generic medications will also need to meet the same quality and safety standards imposed by HSA, just like original brand-name medications.
  • Always discuss any concerns you may have about your medication with your doctor or pharmacist.

​Generic Medications - Side Effects, Precautions, and Contraindications

What side effects can ​Generic Medications cause?

Before taking ​Generic Medications , what precautions must I follow?

What food or medicine must I avoid when I take ​Generic Medications ?

​Generic Medications - Dosage and How to Use

How should ​Generic Medications be used?

What should I do if I miss a dose?

What should I do if I overdose?

​Generic Medications - Handling

How should I handle ​Generic Medications safely?

​Generic Medications - Storage

How should I store ​Generic Medications ?

How should I dispose of ​Generic Medications safely?

​Generic Medications - Additional Information

  • Updated on 8/1/2019 12:00:00 AM
  • Article contributed by Pharmacy Department KK Women's and Children's Hospital
The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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