I READ with interest the letter "Generic medicine crucial" and laud Dr Kim Hock, the president of Association of Specialists in Private Medical Practice of Malaysia for supporting the broader use of quality generic medicines.
In Malaysia, our study had shown that by opting for generic medicines rather than branded ones, consumers can save up to 90 per cent of the cost for medication. Currently, many blockbuster drugs used to treat chronic diseases are available as generics because their patents have ended.
Many doctors that I have worked with have the mindset that generic medicines are only meant for poor countries, but in reality they do not know that generic medicines are used more than 80 per cent of the time in developed countries, such as the United States, Britain, Germany and France.
One of the challenges that our generic medicine research group at Universiti Sains Malaysia has identified is to change the mindset of medical practitioners, especially in the private sector, towards the use of generic medicines.
A study conducted among private practitioners in Perak found that the majority of the doctors surveyed, 58 per cent of the 105 physicians, doubted the efficacy and quality of generic medicines.
These findings support the argument that perception towards generic medicines need to be corrected as Malaysia has stringent requirements for medicine registration, which is on a par with the requirements of many European countries.
In Malaysia, the use of generic medicines is mandated in the National Medicine Policy and the Health Ministry is taking proactive steps in encouraging its wider use.
The Health Ministry, through its Pharmaceutical Services Division, had taken a bold step by launching the Generic Medicines Awareness Programme roadshow nationwide to engage doctors in the public and private sectors.
Assoc Prof Dr Mohamed Azmi Ahmad Hassali, deputy dean (student affairs and networking), School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang
Read more: GENERIC MEDICINES : Doctors should accept their use - Letters to the Editor - New Straits Times