Health

Tuesday 2 September 2014

List of generic drugs being drawn up to reduce costs

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DRUGS to treat conditions such as high cholesterol, blood pressure and stomach ulcers will be the first to be subjected to new generic substitution regulations in a bid to bring down costs.

Recently passed legislation allows for a list of branded drugs and their generic equivalents to be drawn up with a recommendation to use the cheapest, most cost-effective medicine.

Generic medicines are the equivalent of branded versions which no longer have an exclusive patent and are usually cheaper.

It will mean that if patients want a more expensive drug they will have to pay the difference in price, said Pat O'Mahony, chief executive of the Irish Medicines Board (IMB).

The IMB has been given the task of drawing up the list of drugs for each condition, which can be substituted to ensure they are equally effective and safe, with the first appearing in mid-August.

A survey carried out on behalf of the IMB found eight out of 10 people would accept a generic medicine if offered.

And nine out of 10 who had personally used generic medicines said that they had a positive experience overall. Three-quarters were familiar with the term generic medicines.

But twice as many (64pc) trusted a doctor more when it came to drug advice than a pharmacist (31pc).

Commenting on the survey, Mr O'Mahony said the "main reason cited by those who would not accept a generic medicine is their lack of understanding of generic medicines.

SEIZURES

"The increased focus on generics that is accompanying the introduction of the new legislation will help to address this. To assist people to be better informed on this topic, the IMB has published an information leaflet which covers common questions and gives impartial advice.

"We would advise anyone with any queries about generic medicines to discuss them with their doctor or pharmacist."

Responding to concerns by Epilepsy Ireland that some generic drugs could lead to sufferers having seizures, the IMB said it would take these issues into account when drawing up lists of these drugs.

A spokeswoman said that drugs with a so-called "narrow therapeutic index"– where there is a very small difference can affect a patient – were not likely to be placed on a list.

Irish Independent

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