Making medicines affordable and promoting innovation

The British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) represents the interests of UK-based manufacturers and suppliers of generic medicines and promotes the development and understanding of the generic medicines industry in the United Kingdom.

Generic medicines contain the same active ingredient and are as effective as their equivalent brands. The crucial difference is they cost much less making the National Health Service (NHS) drugs bill affordable. For example, more than two thirds of all medicines dispensed by the NHS are generics yet they cost only around 29% of the NHS drugs bill, a saving of more than £10bn in England & Wales alone. Without generics, the NHS drugs bill would be approximately twice its current level.

Our members account for approximately 90% of the UK generics market by volume.

Their work keeps medicines affordable for the NHS which allows further investment in other healthcare priorities, and promotes innovation in the development of new medicines.

As an association, our priority objectives are to promote:

  • + Patient access to medicines
  • + Market efficiency
  • + Fair competition
  • + Economic sustainability


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To download a PDF of the BGMA’s Biosimilars Briefing Paper, click here.

10 Things you need to know about the UK generic medicines industry

  • 1

    Generic medicines meet the same standards of quality, safety and efficacy as originator brands.

  • 2

    Generics have to demonstrate that they are bioequivalent to the original product - i.e., they deliver equal medical benefits to the patient.

  • 3

    Generic competition saves the NHS more than £10bn per annum.

  • 4

    The average cost to the NHS of a generic medicine is £3.79, whilst the average cost of a branded medicine is £19.73

  • 5

    On one product alone, based on current usage, the generics industry has saved the taxpayer £1.1bn

  • 6

    In the UK, a free market approach with competition between manufacturers and incentives for GPs to prescribe and pharmacists to dispense generics has led to a high market share (67%) for generic products.

  • 7

    Generic prices in the UK are the lowest in the developed world and are constrained by free market competition.

  • 8

    The market share that generics reach and the savings they generate are dependent upon national legislation and regulation.

  • 9

    Further growth and NHS savings are constrained by regulatory delays and costs, and the actions of some originator companies in trying to avoid or delay generic competition.

  • 10

    Competition from generics also stimulates the research based pharmaceutical industry to develop new medicines.