Background and Objectives
Generic substitution has been introduced in most countries in order to reduce costs and improve access to drugs. However, regulations and the generic drugs available vary between countries. It is the prescriber or dispenser of the drug who is the final decision maker. Nevertheless, physicians’ and pharmacists’ perceptions of generic drug use are not well documented to date. This study presents a systematic review of physicians’ and pharmacists’ perspectives on generic drug use worldwide.
A systematic literature search was performed to retrieve all articles published between 2002 and 2012 regarding physicians’ and/or pharmacists’ experiences with generic drugs and generic substitution.
Of 1322 publications initially identified, 24 were eligible for inclusion. Overall, the studies revealed that physicians and pharmacists were aware of the cost-saving function of generic drugs and their role in improving global access to drugs. Nevertheless, marked differences were observed between countries when studying physicians’ and pharmacists’ perceptions of the available generic drugs. In less mature healthcare systems, large variations regarding, for example, control routines, bioequivalence requirements, and manufacturer standards were reported. A lack of reliable information and mistrust in the efficacy and quality were also mentioned by these participants. In the most developed healthcare systems, the participants trusted the quality of the generic drugs and did not hesitate to offer them to all patients regardless of socioeconomic status. In general, pharmacists seemed to have better knowledge of the concept of bioequivalence and generic drug aspects than physicians.
The present study indicates that physicians and pharmacists are aware of the role of generic drugs in the improvement of global access to drugs. However, there are marked differences regarding how these health professionals view the quality of generic drugs depending on the maturity of their country’s healthcare system. This can be attributed to the fact that developed healthcare systems have more reliable public control routines for drugs in general as well as better bioequivalence requirements concerning generics in particular.