Generic medications in the Lebanese community: understanding and public perception

Genéricos/Investigación | Posted 23/01/2024 post-comment0 Post your comment

A study conducted by Hatem G and Itani R et al. found that factors such as regulatory standards and quality assurance can influence people’s perception of generic drugs. This research involved 385 patients recruited from six public healthcare centres in Lebanon. Like in many countries, the regulatory authority in Lebanon ensures that generic drugs meet the same standards as brand-name drugs.

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Misconceptions about generic drugs can contribute to a lack of knowledge, as reflected in the study’s findings. More than a third of the individuals believed that generic drugs are inferior in quality or effectiveness and have more side effects than brand-name drugs, despite meeting the same rigorous criteria. Since healthcare providers, including doctors and pharmacists, play a vital role in shaping patient perceptions, participants reported them as their primary source of information regarding generics (55.6% and 38.9%, respectively). This result suggests the need to develop informative brochures and pamphlets in plain language and providing personalized explanations to address individual concerns.  

Cost is a significant factor, and affordability influences preferences, especially for those without comprehensive insurance, as only 22.6% declined locally produced generics. Cultural factors, such as preference for brand names due to perceived quality, also affect the public acceptance since, with approximately 73% of individuals seeking their physician's advice before accepting the pharmacist’s substitution.

In the multivariable analysis, the likelihood of accepting generics substitution was 2.15 times higher among those with higher education levels and 4.44 times higher among those who believed that the generic drug is equally effective as the brand-name counterpart. This underscores the effectiveness of tailored interventions aimed at promoting the use of generic drugs, which can help sustain healthcare systems by controlling expenses and ensuring that resources can be allocated more efficiently to other areas of health care.

After adjusting for socio-demographics, the most significant independent factors predicting the willingness to purchase generic drugs were a higher income and the awareness that brand-name and generic medications contain identical active ingredients with comparable effectiveness.

In Lebanon, public awareness campaigns, education, and regulatory oversight were crucial in building trust in generic medications, particularly during the challenging economic times. Reduced access to healthcare services and medications for some individuals promoted the use of generics, often more affordable, to maintain access to essential treatments. This was noted for psychotropic drugs and is also expected for other drug classes [2]. Therefore, the authors suggest a higher acceptance of substitution during the current situation. Another study will be performed to assess this progress.

Conflict of interest
The authors of the research paper [1] declared that there were no conflicts of interest.

Abstracted by Georges Hatem, Researcher in the Clinical and Epidemiological Research Laboratory, Faculty of Pharmacy, Lebanese University, Hadath, Lebanon. 

Editor’s comment
Readers interested to learn more about generic medicines are invited to visit to view the following manuscript published in GaBI Journal:

A review of generic medicine pricing in Europe

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1. Hatem G, Itani R, Ajrouche R, Abbas N, Farah R, Goossens M, et al. Knowledge, perception and acceptance of generic drugs in the general Lebanese population: a cross-sectional survey among adults. The Journal of Medicine Access. 2023;7:27550834221147789.
2. Rachidi M, Hatem G, Hatem M, Zein S, Rachidi S, Awada S. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the consumption patterns of psychotropic drugs and predictors of limited access to medication. The Journal of Medicine Access. 2023;7:27550834231163706.

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