Patients’ beliefs about generic medicines in Malaysia
Background: Acceptance of generic medicines by patients is an essential factor given that they are the end users of these medicines. In fact, adequate knowledge and positive perceptions are prerequisite to patients’ acceptance and use of generic medicines.
Objective: To assess the current belief and views of patients about generic medicines in Malaysia.
Method: This was a self-administered questionnaire-based study. The study was conducted with patients visiting outpatient pharmacy department at a tertiary care hospital in Malaysia. The Malaysian version of Generic Medicines Scale (GMS) was used. The GMS consists of two subscales: efficacy and similarity of generic medicines to original brand medicines. The efficacy subscale consists of 10 items while the similarity subscale consists of 6 items. The responses to the items were framed as a five-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree to 5=strongly agree).
Results: A total of 202 out of 300 patients participated in the study, giving a response rate of 67.3%. In this study, only 49% of them (n=99) knew the term ‘generic medicine’. Moreover, only 53.5% of the respondents (n=108) believed that the efficacy of generic medicines was the same as original brand medicines. In terms of quality, only 44% of the respondents (n=89) disagreed that generic medicines were of a lower quality. About one third (n=65, 32.2%) believed that generic medicines were cheaper because they were less efficacious. In terms of side effects, 44.5% of the respondents (n=90) believed that generic medicines had the same side effect profile as original brand medicines.
Conclusions: The study finding showed that almost half of the respondents had negative belief in generic medicines. Similarly, many patients were not aware of the similarities and differences between generic and original brand medicines. Therefore, there is a need to provide patients with adequate information about generic medicines.
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