When you purchase medications, particularly when you buy medications online, you may be offered the same drug, but under different names. There are a number of reasons for this.

The first is connected with the issues of patent and trademark protection. Every developed market economy gives the creative industries some degree of protection for the commercial products they create.

This so-called Intellectual Property (IP) rights include:

  • patents
  • registered designs
  • trademarks
  • copyright

Each country gives a period of exclusive protection, during which, only the holders of the IP rights are allowed to exploit the protected works. The inventors may decide to do this directly. If so, they will first register the patent in all the major markets. Once they have all their rights protected, they will register a single trademark or brand name for the product. This completes the package for marketing the product across all national boundaries.

Other inventors do not have the manufacturing capacity to serve a global market because their capital may be limited. In this case, the strategy is to license manufacturers to produce a version of the patented product for each national market. A license is a permission to copy the protected product. Without a license, this would be an infringement of the patent.

These new manufacturers may decide that separate names should be used for each market. This also solves the problem of selecting a single brand name. A word that is innocent in one language may be obscene in another. You will therefore sometimes see several different named versions of the same product advertised when you look to buy online from the online pharmacies.

The situation becomes complicated by the decision to license “generic” producers. In well-developed markets, the IP rights holders will market their products at a high price to recover their research and development costs. These high prices cannot always be passed on to second and third world countries. Some manufacturers are altruistic and allow “cheaper” versions of their products to be made. This work is performed by large volume manufacturers.

Quite often, the same drug is sold under a different name to avoid confusing the home markets if news of a different price spread. The generic manufacturers usually adopt the “chemical” name. When developers create new drugs, they are exploiting the therapeutic qualities of chemical compounds that have an internationally recognized name. So, for example, the chemical name of Cialis is Tadalafil Citrate. Because the IP rights holders want to protect the reputation of their products, they always control the license holders in order to make sure that they maintain proper manufacturing standards and produce an identical product.

However, when the period of IP protection expires, anyone may copy the original formula of the drug and sell the product.

This form of competition is beneficial for customers because it brings down the price of the product. These manufactures only have to recover their production costs. There are no research and development costs payable by them. The marketing effort is usually minimal as they can trade on the reputation of the original product copied.

The generics will be identical to the original branded drugs. They will have exactly the same:

  • basic chemistry
  • quality
  • strength
  • dosages

These drugs are called bio-equivalents. That means they have exactly the same effect as the original branded products with the same safety characteristics. The only real differences are the price you pay, the way the pills are packed and the less obvious way in which they are marketed. It is possible that the pills or capsules have a different color and shape.

These are cosmetic differences only so customers should not worry about it. There are sets of international and national regulations to ensure that the generics are bio-equivalent. That way, you should always be protected as a consumer. But, in some cases, fakes do come on to the market. To get the best protection from this threat, you should always buy drugs from reputable online pharmacies.