Impact of generic substitution in Finland

Generics/Research | Posted 04/03/2011 post-comment0 Post your comment

Mandatory generic substitution was introduced in Finland on 1 April 2003. A recent study compared the impact of generic substitution on both originator and generic pharmaceutical companies in Finland.


The impact of generic substitution was self-reported, using a postal survey, from pharmaceutical companies one year in 2004 and five years in 2008 after the introduction of mandatory generic substitution. Factors investigated were the number of employees, the range of sales packages on the market, marketing activities, research and development of new pharmaceutical products and stock of pharmaceuticals.

Completed questionnaires were returned by 16 originator and seven generic companies in 2004 and by 16 original and six generic product companies in 2008.

Results from the survey showed that this caused some problems for many originator companies. The number of employees and the amount of marketing decreased and there were also problems related to the stock of pharmaceuticals shortly after mandatory generic substitution was introduced in 2004 and also with stock five years after generic substitution in 2008.

In the generic companies, not surprisingly, marketing was found to be increased at the beginning of generic substitution.

The differences between originator and generic companies, however, were not statistically significant. Generic substitution did not have an effect on the range of sales packages on the market or the research activities of the majority of companies.

Therefore, it seems that generic substitution does not impact the originator companies perhaps quite as much as they would like us to think.


Timonen J, Bengtström M, Karttunen P, Ahonen R. The impact of generic substitution on the activities of pharmaceutical companies - a survey from the companies’ perspective one year and five years after the introduction of generic substitution in Finland. BMC Clin Pharmacol. 2010;10(1):15.

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