A generic drug is "a drug product that is comparable to brand/reference listed drug product in dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality and performance characteristics, and intended use"1. India, Brazil, Thailand, South Africa and even smaller African countries such as Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe produce generic drugs2. The production of generic drugs is a controversial issue due to the existence of patent protections on most pharmaceutical products that current law considers to be the property of the firms that produced them. Proponents of generic drugs point out the extremely high prices charged for brand name drugs as compared to generics when they are permitted, as well as the needs of the developing world for cheap drugs in their battle with various life-threatening diseases as reasons to circumvent conventional patent law and to permit the production of generics generally. Opponents of generic drugs hold that the patent rights are essential in order to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop new and better drugs and that generic drugs are potentially harmful. Debates center around the issues of the inviolability of patents, the needs of the developing world for drugs and how best to meet them, and whether generic drugs can be a suitable and cheaper alternative to conventional brand name drugs.
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