slideshow widget

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Generic and brand names: why are there so many names for meds?

Every day at we get lots of asthma related questions. Below are some questions I thought my readers at the RT Cave would enjoy.

Question: Is Ventolin in Canada the same as Albuteral? I get very confused with all these names of medications. The ones in Canada I think are called something else??

My humble answer: The medicine is exactly the same in both countries. explains all the names. I'll give a quick review here.

Every drug has more than one name. You have the chemical name that describes "the atomic or molecular structure of the drug." Usually this name is too complex for for the public to understand

Once the product is approved by the FDA it is given a generic name, which is basically an easy to pronounce version of the chemical name. Then the company comes up with a brand name that marks that particular product as made by that company.

Likewise, "When a drug is under patent protection, the company markets it under its brand name. When the drug is off-patent (no longer protected by patent which usually takes 25 years), the company may market its product under either the generic name or brand name. Other companies that file for approval to market the off-patent drug must use the same generic name but can create their own brand name. As a result, the same generic drug may be sold under either the generic name or one of many brand names."

Most doctors, nurses and RTs will refer to the drugs generic name, because it refers to the product itself not the company that makes it. Thus, a doctor will write an order for Albuterol. The pharmacy can choose whichever brand it wants. Usually it chooses the one with the lowest cost at that time.

For Albuterol it would look like this:

Generic name: Albuterol in the U.S. (Salbutamol in Europe and Canada)

Brand names: Ventolin, Proventil (AccuNeb, Vospire, ProAir in Europe and Canada)

Every one of the above refers to the exact same medicine, and they all have the same components, and thus all work exactly the same. So, yes, the Ventolin in Canada is the same as Albuterol.

If you have any further questions email me, or Visit's Q&A section.


Anonymous said...

Actuallly, we call it Ventolin in Canada as well.

Heidi said...

I can't wait for a generic Advair.... $200.00 to fill the script without insurance is BS

Anonymous said...

And ProAir is available in the US.