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Mediclinic News : Generic medicines could save SA millions

Title

Generic medicines could save SA millions

Date

2017-05-07

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News Description

CITY PRESS South Africans often prefer branded medicine over generics, but the latest research from Mediscor shows that this is slowly changing, albeit not quickly enough. The research shows that last year about one in five prescriptions for patients who belonged to a medical aid favoured branded medication, although generic equivalents were available and this is costing the South African economy billions of rands a year. Erik Roos, the chief executive of Pharma Dynamics, a generic medicine producer, said the company estimates that the country could save millions by substituting branded medication with generics in the treatment of patients who suffer from hypertension. The Human Sciences Research Council of SA estimates that more than 6-million people suffer from high blood pressure in this country. Roos said generic hypertension medication is, on average, 44 percent cheaper than branded medication, while a further79 percent can be shaved off the price of branded antidepressants if a generic alternative is used. He said failing to substitute with a generic means that many patients are paying more than R350 for a product that could be costing them in the region of R75. According to the Mediscor research, the use of generics has steadily risen to 56.3 percent in the past five years, with HIV and cancer treatments injecting the major boost. More than 90 percent of HIV-positive people on treatment are taking generic antiretroviral drugs and 86 percent of cancer patients also use generics. Generics contain the same amount of active pharmaceutical ingredients found in the originators - the only difference is that they cost a fraction of the original brand. The reason generic manufacturers sell medication at a lower cost is because of the increased competition among manufacturers who don’t have to go through the expensive research and development phase that brand companies have already gone through. Vivian Frittelli, the chief executive of the National Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, which represents generic manufacturers in South Africa, said the steady increase in generic medication use is a step in the right direction. He said the fact that a greater number of consumers are choosing generics over costlier branded equivalents bodes well for both health insurers and government, which has publicly supported the use of generics as a step towards affordable and accessible healthcare for South Africans. But it is not enough because, if more people started using generics, South Africa could save millions a year. Frittelli said this money could be used for something else: more importantly, it could result in affordable medical aid schemes. Roos agreed, and said more needed to be done to educate doctors and patients about the benefits of generics. Frittelli said generics are subject to the same rigorous registration process as branded medicines, but are substantially less costly. Roos said doctors had a major role to play in debunking the myth that generics were less effective. He said that by adopting a more generic prescription-based model, healthcare practitioners could see medicine expenditure drop significantly, while providing patients with effective and affordable medication. Doctors should consider patients’ long-term adherence to essential treatments. Roos said this could be significantly enhanced when a generic is prescribed because brand-name medicine is likely to go uncollected because of the high price tag. The price differential between originators and generics is now as much as 80 percent, he added. Generic medicines now account for about 56 percent of medicines dispensed in the private sector, yet they only amount to 40 percent of the more than R22-billion South Africans spent on medicine last year. Elsewhere in the world, the use of generic medicine is about 80 percent.
Created at 2017/05/18 04:44 PM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2017/05/18 04:44 PM by Mediclinic