From the Straits Times:
Coming: cheaper drugs as generic enter market
Salma Khalik, Health Correspondent
Published: June 1, 2008
Patients here will be able to save millions of dollar on medicine over the next few years as several commonly used branded drugs lose their patents and cheaper generic ones come on the market.
A generic drug, which can cost just half the price of a brand-name one, is allowed for use here only if it produces almost the same results as the original.
This is what patients should know and doctors should already be aware of.
Bioequivalence doesn’t necessarily translate into therapeutic equivalence. While it’s likely that the vast majority of generic drugs perform just as well as brand-name drugs, sometimes formulation differences do matter for individual drugs. This is a controversial issue, by no means are all brand-name drugs better than their generics. And lobbyists for big pharma muddy the picture too. What is probably true in all cases is that brand-name drugs are backed by more extensive research (otherwise they wouldn't have got the patent in the first place). In contrast, no generic drug manufacturer is going to conduct an expensive trial to find out if their formulation is just as effective as the brand-name drug, particularly if the results might show that the generic is worse.
If you’re planning to switch to a generic from a brand-name drug, it’s probably smart to find out more on the generic.