Every medicine (drug) has an approved generic name. Often, it will also have one or more brand (trade) names. This can sometimes lead to confusion.
The brand name is usually written most clearly on any packaging. However, you will always see the generic name written somewhere on the packet (often in small print). Some medicines only have the generic name on the packet.
The colour, size, shape, etc, of brands of the same medicine may vary depending on which company makes it. Do not be alarmed if your regular medicine seems to have changed colour or shape. It may be that the pharmacist is getting it from a different company, or the doctor has written the prescription in a generic way rather than using a brand name. However, the medicine will be the same if the generic name is the same as before.
Some tablets or pills contain a combination of medicines. Combination products are often marketed and sold with a brand name. However, the individual ingredients (the individual medicines that are combined into the one tablet or pill) will all be listed in small print on the packet. For example, a popular painkiller has a brand name of Solpadeine®. This contains three generic medicines - paracetamol, codeine, and caffeine.
Doctors are encouraged to prescribe by using the generic name. This is because:
In the UK there are strict quality controls before a product licence is granted for brand named or generic versions of medicines. This means that a generic or brand name version of the same medicine will work the same, and be equally as safe.