Each week we will aim to bring out a concise email that provides 4-5 key pieces of information addressing a specific issue in clinical therapeutics.
This week: Generic medicines (part 3)
If the use of generic medicines can create confusion, in which situations are these products appropriate to use? Clear communication is a key consideration in preventing issues.
- In some cases, the originator brand of a product is marketed by the pharmaceutical company at a price higher than that which a generic competitor can be sourced for. Under these circumstances, the difference in cost will not be funded under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and will be passed on to the consumer. At the point of dispensing, a consumer may be offered the cheaper generic product for a lesser cost than the brand indicated on the prescription.
- Sometimes a prescriber may have a specific objective in selecting a specific brand to prescribe – for example to supply a capsule instead of a tablet, or to maintain a similar appearance to avoid confusion relative to previous treatment. The prescriber may tick the DNS (do not substitute) box on the prescription, meaning that the pharmacy must supply the brand prescribed even if it is more expensive to the consumer.
- For products not listed on the PBS (or prescribed for non-PBS indications) the use of a generic alternative can result in very substantial savings for the consumer. Examples include some antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drugs.
- In general, consumers and their families can have confidence in the safety and efficacy of generic medications marketed in Australia.
Please consider these issues when preparing or interpreting RMMR reports or education sessions. Contributions of content or suggested topics are welcome and should be sent directly to email@example.com.