OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to evaluate the general practitioners' (GPs') knowledge and perceptions towards generic medicines in a northern state of Malaysia.
METHOD: A postal cross-sectional survey involving registered GPs in Penang, Malaysia was undertaken. A 23-item questionnaire was developed, validated and administered on the GPs. Eighty-seven GPs responded to the survey (response rate 26.8%).
RESULTS: The majority of the respondents (85.1%) claimed that they actively prescribed generic medicines in their practice. On the other hand, only 4.6% of the respondents correctly identified the Malaysia's National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau's bioequivalence standard for generic products. There were misconceptions among the respondents about the concepts of "bioequivalence", "efficacy", "safety", and "manufacturing standards" of generic medicines. GPs in this survey believed that a standard guideline on brand substitution process, collaboration with pharmacists, patient education and information on safety and efficacy of generic medicines were necessary to ensure quality use of generics. Furthermore, advertisements and product bonuses offered by pharmaceutical companies, patient's socio-economic factors as well as credibility of manufacturers were factors reported to influence their choice of medicine.
CONCLUSION: Although it appeared that GPs have largely accepted the use of generic medicines, they still have concerns regarding the reliability and quality of such products. GPs need to be educated and reassured about generic products approval system in Malaysia concerning bioequivalence, quality, and safety. The current findings have important implications in establishing generic medicines policy in Malaysia.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.