MANILA - Generic medicines have around the same effectivity as brand-name medicines, according to studies required of pharmaceutical companies, said Philippine College of Physicians Dr. Maricar Limpin on Wednesday.
"Sinisiguro ng FDA na yung ibang brand o yung mga 'generic' ay parehas ang efficacy at saka parehas na safe yung gamot for consumption ng mga tao. Importante ang bio-equivalence study, hindi mamamarket unless walang study, na magpapatunayna bio-equivalent sa originator drug," she said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
This, after the Department of Health (DOH) and other groups urged the public to purchase generic brands of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines after reports on supply shortage in pharmacies and drug stores.
Bio-equivalence studies compare drugs with the same formulation to show they have nearly equal efficacy.
Limpin said that drugs cannot be sold in the market unless heir respective bio-equivalence study has been submitted, which can assure the public that lesser known brands are as effective as the more popular brands.
"That is presuming na legit ang local company na nagdidistribute ng gamot, we all know na may fly-by-night na maliliit na kumpanya na di nagsusubmit ng study," she clarified.
(This is of course presuming they originate from registered companies and are not fly-by-night manufacturers.)
However, Limpin said that some doctors may express a preference for certain brands, which may be because of observed experience.
This is especially true for medicines that address more complicated conditions.
"'Yung importance kasi ng bio-equivalence mas malaki ang importance sa antibiotics, high blood, sakit sa puso, o sa diabetes, importante na makita na same ang effectiveness as well as the safety profile ng gamot," she explained.
But for medicines that alleviate flu-like symptoms, there is more leeway in choosing differently branded medicines, "Pagdating sa flu o lagnat, any paracetamol, whether branded o generic, parehas lang ho yan."
Limpin also recommended getting cough medicine that only targets one among possible effects and do not contra-indicate itself.
"Imagine pinapaubo mo, pero meron ring kasama na pampapigil ng ubo. Dapat isang klase lang either pamatunaw ng plema, pampaubo, o pampapigil ng ubo, [kung] isa lang, yun I will recommend any drug generic man o brand name," Limpin said.
(You can't try to induce coughing and suppress it at the same time. It should serve only one indicator at a time: to address phlegm, induce coughing, or suppress it. If it addresses only one, then any brand name will do.)
Limpin clarified that what people often refer to as generic drugs are actually different and lesser-known brand names, while the actual generic names of drugs are shared by all brands of the same medication.
"Yung brand name, brand lang yan ng produkto. Parang toothpaste, may Colgate, may Happy toothpaste," she explained. "That is the brand name, but ang generic name nya, 'toothpaste'."
(The brand name is the brand of the product, like in toothpaste, we have Colgate, and Happy. Those are the brand names, but the generic name is 'toothpaste'.)
In the end, consulting with your respective doctor is still the best option when in doubt of what brand to get, Limpin said.
Limpin recommended bed rest for those who are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
"Mapa-COVID man yan o flu, [kung] meron kayong infection, and walang makakapalit sa bed rest. Importante po na makarecover ang inyong katawan sa infection. Para mangyari yan, kailangan bigyan nyo ang katawan nyo ng time na makapagpahinga," she added.
(Whether it is COVID or flu, bed rest is important for your body to recover, you have to give your body time to rest.)
She also recommended an increase in water intake.
Dr. Tony Leachon, a health reform advocate, said hydration helps decrease nasal irritation when coughing, sneezing, and even just breathing.
"Moisture also helps in healing broken membranes so additional bacteria don't get into the body," he added.
Leachon also recommended a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables and taking vitamins C, D, and Zinc.
"Headaches, fevers, and body aches can be alleviated with paracetamol or acetaminophen," he said. "If [unavailable] we can take over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or mefenamic acid."
He recommended drinking tea or warm lemon water mixed with honey to soothe sore throat. Honey can also be used to help suppress coughs, he added.
Limpin reminded the public that while it is flu season, Filipinos should not downplay symptoms of the illness.
"Kadalasan may denial ang mag Pilipino na ah, flu lang ito (Filipinos often deny symptoms and dismiss it as the common flu)," she observed.
"In the process ang dami ang nae-expose sa mga sintomas na ito, kaya nag dami nating COVID-19 cases. Kailangan ho tayo na magpatingin, magpatest ho tayo. Once may sintomas tayo isolate na ho natin ang sarili natin, wag natin isawalang-bahala."
(When we do this, we expose others to symptoms. We should consult a medical professional, get tested, and isolate once we experience symptoms. Let's not dismiss it.)
The Philippines recorded an additional 10,775 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.