Generic medicines literacy — minimising the potential for patient confusion

Andrew J McLachlan
Med J Aust 2010; 192 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03555.x
Published online: 5 April 2010

For generic substitution to be safe, consumers and clinicians need to fully understand what is the same or different about various brands of the same medicine

A main aim of the National Medicines Policy is to provide Australians with access to safe, high-quality medicines at prices consumers and government can afford.1 As such, generic medicines have an important place in health care. Consumers see generic medicines as an opportunity to access cheaper medicines, while governments see the opportunity to achieve the same health outcomes for patients at a lower cost. Clinicians, on the other hand, have mixed views regarding the role of generic medicines. Many pharmacists see generic medicines as an opportunity to reduce patient costs while maintaining effectiveness, whereas some prescribers express concern that generic medicines are not appropriate or equivalent alternatives in some therapeutic areas (eg, anticonvulsants) and that brand substitution is a challenge to their clinical decision making, with a significant risk of patient confusion.

  • Andrew J McLachlan

  • Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney, and Centre for Education and Research on Ageing, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Sydney, NSW.

Competing interests:

I am a pharmacy academic who has acted as a paid consultant and education provider to manufacturers of innovator and generic medicines. I am currently a member of the Pharmaceutical Subcommittee of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee and the Chair of the National Medicines Policy Committee.


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