Commenting on a ruling by the Federal Court in Australia that Reckitt Benckiser had misled consumers by marketing identical products for different types of pain, RPS Chief Scientist Professor Jayne Lawrence said:
“When it comes to choosing which painkiller is best for you, your pharmacist can help you navigate the claims that different products make about their effectiveness for different types of pain. Pharmacists know if the active ingredient and formulation (whether it’s a tablet or a liquid) are equivalent, then the clinical effectiveness will be the same. Ibuprofen provides mild to moderate pain relief for a variety of pain problems, for example headache, toothache and period pain.
“However, the well-known “placebo effect” also plays a part in improving pain relief when people believe the medicine they are taking will work for their pain. The placebo effect is one reason why people may choose to buy a more expensive product even though it may be identical to cheaper versions.
“People in the UK can be reassured that all medicines are strictly regulated for safety, efficacy and quality. Regardless of cost, and whether they are branded or generic, all medicines are made to the same high standards, so you can be reassured your medicine is safe.
“Branded medicine is more expensive than generic equivalents. The branded form of a drug costs more as the company need to recover the large costs associated with developing a drug. Once the patent on the original version of the medicine runs out, other companies are free to make their own version, and as they don’t bear the original development costs they can sell it much more cheaply.”