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Irish people warming up to generic medicines

The Irish Medicine Board expects lists of interchangeable medicines to be ready within two months of legislation on the drugs commencing.

Image: Pills image via Shutterstock

IRISH CONSUMERS HAVE a higher awareness of and more positive attitude towards the use of generic medicines according to a survey published today.

Over 80 per cent of respondents in the Irish Medicine Board’s (IMB) survey said they would accept generic medicine if it was offered by their doctor or pharmacist, while nine out of ten consumers who personally used it said they had a positive experience with it overall.

Almost three quarters of people were familiar with the term ‘generic medicine’ and the main reason cited by the 17 per cent who would not accept the generic drugs is their lack of understanding.

The survey also highlighted a “deep level of trust” by Irish adults in healthcare professionals with GPs and pharmacists being the most trusted sources of advice about medicines.

IMB said the findings are particularly relevant in advance of government plans to introduce a system of generic substitution and reference pricing shortly. Under this system, the IMB will publish a list of interchangeable medicines on its website showing those medicines that can be safely substituted by pharmacists.

Quality and safety

“Generic medicines meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the original branded medicines,” commented Pat O’Mahony, Chief Executive of IMB. “Our research results indicate that this is well understood by patients and other members of the public.”

Over recent months, O’Mahony said the board has dedicated specialist staff to prepare for the introduction of the generic substitution legislation.

“The IMB’s immediate priority will be to review an initial 20 active substances which equates to approximately 1,500 individual medicines,” he explained today. “These medicines will be grouped together under a list of interchangeable medicines according to their active substance, strength, pharmaceutical form and the route of administration. As each active substance is assessed it will be added to the list and this will be published on our website.”

The first 20 active substances were selected by the Department of Health on the basis of overall cost to patients and the State and it is anticipated thaat the initial list will be publised on IMB’s site within two months of the legislation being commenced. After that, it is expected that the board will process and list an average of two or three groups of medicines each month.

Read: Epilepsy Ireland ‘extremely frustrated’ about drug substitution>
Read: HSE introduces preferred drug initiative to save €15 million in budget>

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