Sharing moments Menopause Young adults Bye bye Hotel Mum How you feel at home Semester abroad Language course abroad or work as an au pair? Be prepared for military training Grassrooted Pack smarter, travel better Make an impression Contraception Vegan diet Bye bye Hotel Mum – hello shared flat Big trip, small budget Finanzielle Vorsorge Planning a family Tracking fertility The right time? How men can help Fertility and diet Medical check-up What you need to know about ovulation What to do if you don’t conceive straight away Three electronic fertility and cycle trackers in comparison Planning a family and partnership Pregnancy Examinations during pregnancy Diet and nutrition Is my pregnancy progressing normally? Tips for daily life Important points for travel and holidays Is my pregnancy progressing normally? What items do I need for my baby? Where and how do I want to give birth? What do I need to pack for the hospital? How should I prepare my home for my child? Is my pregnancy progressing normally? How can I best prepare for my baby? How can I best prepare for the birth? Nutrition Parent-child relationship Preparing for breastfeeding | Sanitas Magazine Insurance Stretch marks Sleep Rupture of membranes Baby blues High-risk pregnancy Braxton Hicks & false labour Formalitites Morning sickness Family rooms Signs of a premature birth Our baby Bathing baby – what you need to know How babies hear Infant first-aid kit Baby care Is my baby developing normally? Month-to-month overview of baby development Is my baby developing normally? Baby’s development: Months 3 and 4 Baby care Breastfeeding When does a baby start eating? Weight Baby growth spurts Toys Sun protection for baby skin Teething Milk teeth: what to do in case of accident Baby’s development: Months 5 and 6 Pelvic floor exercises after birth Babyschlaf Celebrating and enjoyment Christmas and New Year’s Eve with a twist A philosophical take on pleasure Pleasure can also be found in the soup kitchen in Zurich Tips for a peaceful and stress-free Christmas Living better with cardiac insufficiency Alejandro Iglesias Hana Disch Patrizio Orlando Vaccinations and travel first-aid kit Hay fever In pursuit of happiness Seven tips for a happier daily life Kids in lockdown Online addiction Women's hearts Decisions Decision-making tips Report from the hospital Donating a kidney Life decisions Emigrating to South America Geocaching Sexuality Erectile dysfunction Young people and sexuality Queer pastor Drag queen Paprika Sexually transmitted infections What does LGBTQIA+ stand for? Gender medicine HPV Families of transgender people Medically assisted suicide Types of dementia Family Blessing or curse? Knowing about hereditary diseases Families of dementia patients Be active Active during pregnancy Sport and exercise during pregnancy Antenatal exercise classes Standing properly Healthy eating Green smoothies Vitamin D Good eggs, bad eggs Diet plan Healthy fats Feed your muscles How much sugar should we eat a day? How much fat should we eat a day? Lactose intolerance Healthy diet, strong immune system Low Carb E-numbers and other additives in food Personalised diet Vegan meat substitutes Brain food: what should we eat? Healthy heart Interview with Christophe Wyss Heart-friendly sports How the mind affects the heart Taking blood pressure correctly High blood pressure: what you need to know Healthy teeth Home remedies: relief for sore gums A dentist explains Brushing up on brushing Changing habits Interview Stortpsychologie 10-step guide to changing habits Try, try, try again Fitnessmotivation Running coaching Running ABC Race in Sarnen Factors affecting condition Weekly planner Running shoes Strengthening exercises Running nutrition Complementary sport Warm-up Stretching Functional clothing Fitness tracker Shopping – sportswear Running tips for women Relaxation technique Recovery New lease of life thanks to Sanitas running coaching Sport after childbirth Postnatal exercise Taking the strain off your shoulders Kangatraining Workout while walking Expert tips Stress and relaxation Moving air Fight stress with yoga What is stress Learn how to relax Dealing with stress What is burnout? “The first step was to create boundaries” Juggling family and a career Reduce stress Stressor factors The most beautiful Swiss saunas Sweating in the sauna Breathing exercises for relaxation The right rest & recovery: debunking myths Mindfulness Sleep Constant availability: chronic stress Trend sports Fitness boxing Slackline Bouldering Fascia training Stand Up Paddling Keeping fit efficiently Swing with a smile! Vertical workout Hiking Altitude sickness Seven stroller-friendly hikes Needed: a hiking-friendly pushchair There goes the other sole! Tips on hiking with a baby Mountain lakes Winter walks Planning a family: Fertility and exercise Stair climbing Pumptrack Kids’ back Back exercises Sitting properly at work Forest fun Playing for life Promoting health and fitness Motivation Sledging Curling glossary What do you get if you cross a kite with snow? Snowshoeing Preventing falls Inline skating Swimming Swimming Wings for Life Stretching Bike tips Stretching exercises for cyclists koerper-und-kaelte Healthy teeth thanks to dental hygiene and preventive care Putting wishes into practice Tips for healthy teeth Hometraining Investigating teeth-related myths 10 tips to ease anxiety Hand care How our body regenerates The best abdominal exercises in five minutes Keeping fit on holiday Swim training aids Wie viel Sport ist gesund Gathering mushrooms – the right way | Sanitas Magazine Check-ups Five-minute stretching routine Gehirntraining Rückenschmerzen Licht Yogastile Ayurveda-Morgenroutine Tips for doing sport outside in winter Cross-country skiing for beginners Home remedies against dandruff Home remedies Home remedies for bladder infections Home remedies for a sore throat Home remedies for migraines Home remedies against excessive sweating Home remedies for a sun allergy Healthy feet, healthy back core exercises for mountain bikers Symptoms Check Sport after Corona HIIT: quick and efficient exercises Sore muscles: debunking myths Debunking swimming myths strength training for young people Exercise videos Whole-body workout Fascia training Lack of exercise Sun protection Strong mind How to be mentally strong Mental strength Psychosomatics Resilience Tips against feeling down Sleep hygiene and mental well-being Depression Panic attacks Prescription drug addiction ADHD: Symptoms in children and adults Mental illness: help for friends and family Living with autism Pressure to perform Alcoholism Mental health benefits of exercise Ways to brighten your mood Blood: myths and facts Hormones Complementary medicine: the most common treatments Complementary medicine Training in line with your menstrual cycle Living together today Digital life Online addiction Digital temptation Children and digital media Smartphone neck Digital responsibility and solidarity Our brains love habit Change my habits? You’re joking! Planning a family: Difficulties trying to have a baby Planning a family: Myth vs fact Solidarity study Newcomers Living together tomorrow Digital nomads Giesserei multi-generation house The blind film director Help instead of rent Working on the move Medical practices of the future Our skin – layer by layer Generational discussion: wishes for life Hausarzt und Corona Safe return to work Corona crisis: singing together Corona crisis: Working in intensive care Corona crisis: working in a nursing home Rest and recovery: learning from children Corona crisis: voluntary work for the needy Second opinion Relationships and children Three questions that keep us awake at night Outing The nature of lying Vorsorge Finding sound health-related information online Impfstoffe entwickeln Tipps für Jugendliche in der Corona-Krise Becoming parents Diagnose: Kind im Haus Long Covid Take it easy in your free time YouTuber Aditotoro on the coronavirus pandemic Minimalism for a happy life Thanks to corona: more time for family Back to life after a paragliding accident Decluttering: the answer to chaos Living and loving with autism Synaesthesia Talking to doctors Non-verbal communication Is there really a serial killer gene? Developments for the future App check Aqualert SRC blood donor Codecheck Forest Freedom Freeletics Three sleep apps reviewed PeakFinder Findery Six fitness apps reviewed Internet use High-tech trousers Prostheses Hospital of the future New skin for burns victims Online-Therapien How drugs are developed Generics A vision of the future: How we will live in 30 years Onward Overcoming erectile dysfunction Family medicine practices of the future Personalised medicine A voice for Clara Outpatient procedures

How good are generics really?

In Switzerland, only one in five medicines prescribed by a doctor is a generic drug. Patients are still critical about the effectiveness of generics. Are they right to worry? Six questions and answers.

Text: Helwi Braunmiller, photo: Sanitas

In neighbouring Germany, over 80% of patients use generics. In France, too, every third medicine prescribed is an imitation product – in Austria it’s no less than every second. Switzerland, by contrast, is much more reluctant to make the change, with just 22% of all medicines sold here generics, even though they could save us between 300 and 500 million francs.

What are generics? A definition

A generic drug is a medication created to be the same as an existing approved brand-name drug whose patent has expired after 20 years. During these 20 years, pharmaceutical companies have the sole right to sell their own original drug. They set the price to cover the cost of development and research and generate a profit. After this period, other pharmaceutical manufacturers are allowed to copy the drugs based on the research findings on the original product, which now have to be released. Generic drugs are equivalent to the original in terms of quantity, dosage, composition and formulation. They use the same active ingredients and are taken in the same way. Before being brought to market, they are subject to a standard testing procedure in Switzerland.

Do generic drugs work the same as original drugs?

The same effect is said to be achieved when patients are able to absorb and break down a drug’s active ingredients at about the same rate and to the same degree. However, companies are given a little leeway here. The absorption rate of a generic drug’s active ingredient must be between 80% and 125% of the original. As a rule, differences between the generic and original drug come in at around 5%.

This value of 5% is usually not significant, because not every drug works in exactly the same way in every patient. It can be affected by age or sex, for example. With some drugs, however, the speed of action is very important, which is why the limits set by the authorities are much stricter.

How do generics and original drugs differ?

Although the range of application and effect are generally the same, generics and original drugs are often not completely identical. For example, there may be differences in colour, aroma, binding agent or preservatives. But this isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. Newly added auxiliary products and an adapted manufacturing process can also improve the imitation version of the drug – making it easier to dose or better tolerated, for example. Intolerances or an allergic reaction to the newly added substances are very rare.

Why are generics cheaper than original drugs?

The lower price has nothing to do with inferior drugs. Generics manufacturers save on a lot of the research work – and thus a great deal of money. To make a profit they therefore need to invest far less money into the drug than the original manufacturer. The approval process also costs less, because the tests are more straightforward. Furthermore, competition increases once a patent expires, often with several other companies offering imitation products with the same active ingredients, and this drives the prices down.

Why aren’t generics so widespread in Switzerland yet?

There are far fewer generics on the Swiss market than in neighbouring countries. One reason for this is that the Swiss market is small and therefore not attractive enough for generics manufacturers. And another is that a drug approved in the EU is not automatically approved in Switzerland. This means it has to run through another approval process based on Swiss requirements.

Generics are subject to strict requirements: with each production run, the original and generic must be produced in the same package size, which means they have to be offered in sizes that are sometimes not profitable. The multi-lingual Swiss market is also an issue, demanding special packaging printed in German, Italian and French. As a result, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), even though generics in Switzerland are significantly cheaper than the original, they are more than twice as expensive as in nine European reference countries.

What needs to be considered when changing from the original drug to a generic drug?

Switching from the original to a generic drug is usually uncomplicated, especially when it comes to over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers.

If you’re taking prescription medication, you should seek advice from the doctor looking after you when changing over. This is particularly important with drugs that have to take effect at a specific moment or where the drug level is important, for example psychotropics or drugs for epilepsy.

In the case of patients who have to take medication on a permanent basis, doctors should carefully consider whether they want to change an already well-adjusted medication in favour of a generic drug. If a change is planned, start with the smallest possible pack as a test and – if you’re taking several medications at the same time – don’t change them all at once. If you’ve decided to switch, you should stick with it and not switch between different products.