A nationwide survey exploring physicians’ and pharmacists’ knowledge, awareness and perceptions regarding generic medicines in China

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BMC Health Services Research


Background: Generic medicines substitution is an important means to control rapid growth of pharmaceutical expenditures for the healthcare system in China. Acceptance and utilization of generic medicines is highly influenced by healthcare providers’ perceptions. This study aimed to compare the knowledge, awareness and perceptions of generic medicines between physicians and pharmacists in China. Methods: We used an online, cross-sectional survey across China. The questionnaire explored four sections: demographic characteristics, assessment of the participants’ knowledge and awareness of generic medicines, perceptions of generic medicines and generic substitution practices. Chi-square or Mann–Whitney-U tests were applied to compare differences between physicians and pharmacists. P-values < 0.05 were considered significant. Results: A total of 1644 physicians and 4187 pharmacists participated. Most physicians (82.8%, n = 1362) and pharmacists (89.8%, n = 3760) correctly identified the definition of generic medicines. A similar percentage of physicians and pharmacists agreed that approved generic medicines are as effective (64.1% vs 68.2%) or safe (63.8% vs 69.1%) as brand-name medicines. Most physicians and pharmacists (67.6% vs 71.0%) supported the policy of generic substitution. In practice, 79.4% (n = 1305) of physicians reported that they had prescribed generic medicines. More than 78% of respondents reported an obvious increase in the number of generic medicines prescribed in their medical institutions. The majority of physicians and pharmacists identified lack of trust regarding efficacy and safety of generic medicines and the difficulty of changing patients’ preference as top challenges in generic substitution. Conclusions: Both physicians and pharmacists surveyed had adequate knowledge of generic medicines, and hold positive attitude towards generics and generic substitution. Efficacy and safety are key factors related to prescribing or dispensing generic medicines. Various policies and regulations should be taken to encourage successful generic substitution.



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