PAGB statement on branded vs. generic OTC medicines

Published on: 18 May 2017


John Smith, PAGB Chief Executive comments,

“In the UK, a wide range of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, both branded and generic, are available to buy from pharmacies and other retail outlets. This ensures people are able to choose a medicine which suits their needs and their budget.

“Branded OTC medicines enjoy a long-standing heritage of trust and manufacturers invest heavily in years of research and new product development. Many of the manufacturers behind the well-known brands are often the first to bring new medicines to market, that bring new benefits to people such as a faster onset of action, prolonged duration of action or products that were previously only available on prescription.

“While 20 years may be the standard length of patent for prescription medicines, this is not the case with OTC products. It is exceedingly rare for new OTC medicines to have any form of protection on entry to the market. Other companies are then free to make their own versions, and as they don’t bear the original development costs they can sell it at a lower price.

“As with all medicines, it’s important that people always read and follow the instructions and are careful not to take more than one product containing the same active ingredient. A pharmacist can give advice on the most suitable medicine to take if people are unsure.”

PAGB statement regarding branded vs. generic OTC medicines