Over the past 12 – 24 months, a number generic glaucoma eye drops have become available in Australia. Many patients are being switched over to generic drops without a full understanding of the difference between branded and generic medication. Such a switch may have implications for your glaucoma control for the reasons below:
1. They cost the same.The main reason patients take generic medications is because they are usually cheaper than their branded equivalent. In the case of glaucoma eye drops in Australia, this is not the case – branded and generic glaucoma eye drops are the same or similar price.
2. They are not the same.Generic medicines are often dispensed with the assurance that they are the same as the branded product. In the case of glaucoma eye drops, this is again not true. The active ingredient in the generic medication is required to have a concentration to within 10 -15% of the branded medication. There is also no regulation of other components within the medication, so agents such as buffers, preservatives and chelating agents may differ between branded and generic products.
3. A lack of safety and efficacy testing. Branded medications require years of research and development then clinical trials before reaching market. This is to ensure they work and are safe. In the case of generic glaucoma eye drops, they do not undergo this type of scrutiny but rather come straight to market on the basis that they are probably similar to the branded equivalent
4. Bottle design. The design of an eye drop bottle might seem somewhat trivial but it is in fact very important. The design will influence the patients ability to use the drop and the amount of medication dispensed with each drop. Branded and generic bottle designs are not the same in some instances.
5. Intraocular pressure control. Clinical experience suggests that in some patients who’ve switched from a branded to generic glaucoma eye drop, intra-ocular pressure control deteriorates.