Perceptions of the substitution of generics

Generics/Research | Posted 13/05/2016 post-comment0 Post your comment

Pharmacists are mostly positive about the substitution of generics for brand-name drugs, according to a study analysing negative perceptions about generics, carried out by researchers from New Zealand and the US [1].


A systematic search of databases (MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, Scopus) was carried out in order to identify observational studies published in English between 1980 and 6 September 2015. After screening 2,737 articles, 52 articles were included in the final analysis. The publication dates for these studies ranged from 1987 through 2015 and included data from 27 countries.

Pharmacists had significantly lower rates of negative perceptions about substitution of generics for their brand-name alternatives (11.04%) compared to patients (34.03%, p < 0.0001) and physicians (24.11%, p < 0.0001). Patients were the most likely to report unfavourable attitudes towards substituting a brand-name drug with its generic equivalent and held more negative perceptions of drug substitution compared to doctors (p < 0.0001).

Research suggests that the majority of consumers learn about generics from a doctor or pharmacist, and this medical advice is critical to consumers’ decision to take a generic drug. The authors therefore believe that ‘there is clearly a need for interventions aimed at the general population and health professionals to target misperceptions of inferior quality, safety and efficacy – as well as to explain the reasons why generic medicines are cheaper than brand-name equivalents, the meaning of bioequivalence, and the testing and regulatory processes involved in approving a generic medicine for general use’.

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

Editor’s comment
Readers interested to learn more about patients’ and physicians’ perceptions of generics are invited to visit to view the following manuscripts published in GaBI Journal:

Perceptions of physicians from private medical centres in Malaysia about generic medicine usage: a qualitative study

Views of physicians and patients with chronic conditions on generic medicines in Greece after the introduction of measures to promote their consumption: findings from a qualitative study

Readers interested in contributing a research or perspective paper to GaBI Journal– an independent, peer reviewed academic journal – please send us your submission here.

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Perceptions of the effectiveness and quality of generics

Generics perceptions in patients, pharmacists and doctors

1. Colgan S, Faasse K, Martin LR, Stephens MH, Grey A, Petrie KJ. Perceptions of generic medication in the general population, doctors and pharmacists: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2015;5:e008915. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008915.

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