Concerned about medicine costs? Use the NPS Medicine Name Finder to explore your brand choices
In the wake of reports that a number of medicines will increase in price this week, NPS MedicineWise is reminding Australians that while the cost of a medicine may differ from brand to brand, if the active ingredient and size of the dose are the same then the medicine will work the same in their body.
“Which brand you choose is ultimately up to the medicine user,” says NPS Chief Executive Dr Lynn Weekes.
“The same safety and quality standards are applied to all medicines regardless of their brand or cost so consumers can confidently make a choice based on their individual circumstances, knowing they will get the same health benefits no matter which brand they choose.”
“You will only be offered a choice of brands if the medicines are bioequivalent. This means each brand has the same active ingredient, the same dose and has been proven to work the same in your body as the other brands available,” says Dr Weekes.
With a number of commonly-prescribed medicines coming off patent this year, the number of brands available to consumers for some medicines has increased.
“This is why knowing the active ingredient is so important, because it will help you identify the different brands you can choose from,” says Dr Weekes.
NPS has a useful online tool called the Medicine Name Finder which is designed to help people discover the different PBS-listed brands which may be available for their medicine. Users enter either the active ingredient or brand name of their medicine and are provided with a list of bioequivalent brands which may be available to them.
“It’s possible some of these brands may be cheaper than others, so if cost is an important consideration, check with your pharmacist to see if there is a brand available at a lower price,” says Dr Weekes.
However, price is just one of a number of things you need to consider when choosing a medicine brand.
“Other factors you may want to consider are the size and shape of the packaging and whether or not the brand you choose is readily available. For example, if you are taking multiple medicines, choosing brands which have similar packaging may increase the risk of you making a mistake.”
Five questions to ask when you are offered an alternative brand of medicine:
- Is it okay for me to choose a different brand of my medicine?
- What are the benefits and disadvantages for me if I use a different brand?
- Is there a difference in cost?
- Which of my usual medicines does this replace?
- What is the active ingredient in my medicine?
NPS has information and resources to help consumers make a safe and confident choice between medicine brands available online at www.nps.org.au/bemedicinewise/brand_choices.
To access the NPS Medicine Name Finder, visit www.nps.org.au/consumers/tools_and_tips/medicine_name_finder.
Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.