Generic brand drugs are now 10 per cent cheaper in B.C.

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British Columbia’s government implemented the first step in the Pharmaceutical Services Act yesterday, which makes generic drugs slightly cheaper than they used to be.

As of this month, no-name pharmaceutical drugs will be 10 per cent cheaper than their brand-name equivalents. The price will decrease again next year.

How it works

The initiative works as a price ceiling — drug companies will not be compensated by the government for the price difference.

“Thanks to this regulation, B.C. families will pay less at the till when they fill their prescriptions,” said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid in a government press release.

According to the same press release, generic drugs have the “same quality strength, purity and stability as their brand name equivalents and are made to the same strict standards.”

The opposition

However, pharmacist Edward Thorpe at Kripps Pharmacy disagrees.

“These people are not scientists or medical people. They’re politicians. They say things that aren’t necessarily true.”

“Sometimes there are differences [in the quality of generic drugs compared to brand-name],” he said. “First of all, making something that is not equivalent to the brand name is a moot point,” he said.

He said that generic brands generally aren’t made with the same quality that their more expensive equivalents are.

“The tendency is if you’re getting less money for something, you tend to neglect it. For example, the companies may not want to even produce it if it’s cheaper, let alone produce it with the same quality and care.”

Government rebuttal

However, Ryan Jabs, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said that drug quality will not change as a result of the price drop, as companies will be subject to the same quality regulations.

“They’d be responsible to provide [their product] at the same level of quality,” he said.

General studies student Jesse Holowati said she’s always been more inclined to opt for the cheaper options when filling prescriptions.

“My birth control, for instance, I always get the cheaper brand even though there’s a more popular brand name version,” she said.

She added that the government should use more effective advertising tactics to inform low-income people of new affordable initiatives.

 Reported by Hailey McDonald

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