Knowledge, perceptions and practices of pharmacists regarding generic substitution in China: A cross-sectional study

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BMJ Open


Objective To evaluate pharmacists' knowledge, perceptions and practices towards generic substitution in the 11 pilot locations in China. Design An online cross-sectional survey using questionnaires was conducted. A convenience sampling technique was implemented to recruit pharmacists. Setting and participants The study took place in medical institutions of 11 pilot locations that participated in the pilot national centralised procurement programme in 2019. Two thousand two hundred and ninety-one pharmacists including hospital pharmacists or community pharmacists based on health-systems or clinics participated in the study. Results Most of the participants had the good knowledge of requirements for evaluating the quality and efficacy of generic drugs (n=2118; 92.4%), and the definition of generic drugs (n=2078; 90.7%). In terms of perceptions, 67.3% of respondents were of the opinion that generic drugs are equally as effective as the brand-name drugs, and 69.0% of respondents were of the opinion that generic drugs are as safe as brand equivalents. A high percentage of participants supported the policy of generic substitution (n=1634; 71.4%). A significant positive correlation was demonstrated between total knowledge score and total perception score (ρ=0.267; p<0.001). Efficacy, safety and the direction of national policies and hospital regulations were the main factors affecting pharmacists' willingness to dispense generic drugs. Conclusions The study identified gaps in respondents' knowledge and perceptions of generic substitution. Pharmacists who are more knowledgeable in generic drugs tend to hold a more supportive attitude towards generic substitution. Although it appeared that pharmacists in China have largely accepted generic substitution, they still have concerns regarding the reliability and quality of generic drugs. The current issues need to be addressed for the realisation of the true value of generic drugs as part of the country's healthcare cost-containment strategy as well as the implementation of generic substitution policy in China.



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