UL Study Examines Irish Confidence In Generic Medicines


UL Study Examines Irish Confidence In Generic Medicines

31% of patients had no knowledge of generic medicines, 39 % of those exhibited confusion between the words ‘generic’ and ‘genetic’.

24% view generics as poorer quality than originators, 18% thought they didn’t work as well.

Nearly 90% would take a generic if prescribed by their GP, but 24% would prefer the originator medicine if offered a choice.

In June 2013 Ireland introduced generic substitution and reference pricing for the first time. In January 2014, University of Limerick (UL) researchers have published a study how generic medicines were perceived amongst patients in the time leading up to the enactment of the new legislation.

Suzanne Dunne, PhD candidate, UL Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS), explained the significance of the research "The study has shown that Irish patients' understanding of what generic medicines may have been overestimated in previous reports. Simple "Do you know what a generic medicine is"-type surveys do not capture the potential misunderstanding or confusion caused by the term. For instance, we determined that some patients confuse the work "generic" with "genetic". Such misinterpretation can only be detected by spending more time with patients than is usual in brief vox pop surveys."

Spending on pharmaceuticals in Ireland is high, the highest in the EU per capita in 2010. For example, the annual cost of medicines under the state-funded drugs scheme increased from €564 million in 2000 to €1,961 million in 2009. The Irish government has recognised that increasing usage of generic medicines has the potential to make significant savings. New legislation introducing generic substitution and reference pricing was in Ireland was signed into law in June 2013.

However, no studies have been published before now that investigated Irish patient perceptions of generic medicines.

Professor Walter Cullen, PhD supervisor and Chair of General Practice in UL said "this study has shown that patients are not fully aware of what generic medicines are and express doubts as to their quality. Despite these misgivings, patients exhibit a high degree of trust in their medical professionals and would take a generic drug if prescribed by a trusted physician".
Director of the Centre for Interventions in Inflammation, Infection & Immunity (4i) where this work was done, UL, Professor Colum Dunne, said “this study is focused on developing greater insights into patient perspectives of Irish healthcare policy. One of the findings was that there is some confusion regarding commonly-used terms, and lack of confidence in the equality and effectiveness of some medicines. The clear message is that targeted education approaches may address these issues and, by doing so, improve the potential of new policies to succeed”.

The published paper can be accessed here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40271-013-0042-z#page-1