Every drug has an approved generic or medical name, decided on by an expert committee. Many drugs are also known by a brand or trade name chosen by the pharmaceutical company making and selling that drug as a medicine. So, for example, the drug infliximab (generic name) is also known as Remicade (brand name).

Some drugs are sold in a generic form as well as in a branded form. If several companies market a drug, it will have several different brand names.



Medicines usually contain inactive ingredients as well as the main active ingredient, the generic drug. These help to formulate the medicine, that is, to make it into its tablet, cream or liquid form. They can also be used, for example, to give tablets a particular colour or affect how long the tablets take to dissolve in the gut.

Usually, for most prescription medicines, such small differences are unlikely to create any problems. Whether you are prescribed the branded medicine or a generic version of a drug, provided your dose contains the same amount of active ingredient your medicine should have the same therapeutic effect.

However, for a very small number of drugs, the differences in formulation may be more significant. For example, some of the different brands of mesalazine work in a slightly different way. For this reason your doctor may decide to prescribe a particular brand rather than the generic version.