About Generic Medicines

In order to make safe and effective medicine available at the lowest possible cost, new legislation has been implemented to make it easier for you to obtain affordable generic medicines from your pharmacist.

What is a generic medicine?

A generic medicine is a medicine in which the active ingredient is identical to those of the original brand name medicine. There may be differences in shape, size, packaging or colour, but the ingredients that make the medicine work are exactly the same.

How do I know that the generic medicine is safe?

All medicines sold in the Republic of South Africa are registered by the Medicines Control Council (MCC). The MCC ensures that all generic medicines adhere to the same standards of safety, quality and effectiveness as the brand name alternative.

What are the advantages in the substitution of brand name products with generic medicines?

  • You save by buying a more affordable, equally effective medicine
  • You use your medical aid benefits more efficiently
  • You encourage competition amongst medicine manufacturers
  • You exercise your rights as a a consumer

How does this affect you, the patient?

When you present your pharmacist with a prescription:

  • The pharmacist will inform you of the benefits of substituting generic medicine for the prescribed branded medicine
  • A generic product may be offered to you only if its price is less than that of the prescribed medicine
  • You have the right to refuse to accept the substitution
  • The decision to substitute now rests with you, the patient, following the advice of your pharmacist.

When may generic substitution not take place?

  • If the prescriber has written, in his or her own handwriting, on the prescription the words "no substitution" next to the item prescribed. Discuss the possible reasons for this with your doctor and pharmacist.
  • When certain medicines should not be substituted. Your pharmacist is able to advise you accordingly.
  • If the generic product is more expensive than the branded product prescribed (i.e. if there is no cost saving to the patient)
  • If you, the patient, decide not to accept the generic product.

How can I find out more about generic medicines?

Ask your pharmacist to advise you about the effectiveness of generic alternatives and how the use of generics may reduce the cost of medicine to you

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* Issued by the Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa ­ Guidelines for the Responsible Use of Generic Medicines


Specpharm Holdings (Pty) Ltd.


Midrand, Gauteng, South Africa

Tel: +27 11 652 0400, Fax: +27 86 629 6434