A significant proportion of the general public, pharmacists and doctors have negative perceptions about generics, according to a study carried out by researchers from New Zealand and the US .
A systematic search of databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Scopus) was carried out in order to identify observational studies published in English between 1980 and 6 September 2015. After screening 2,737 articles, 52 articles were included in the final analysis. The publication dates for these studies ranged from 1987 through 2015 and included data from 27 countries.
Data on perceptions of generics with respect to effectiveness, quality, safety, side effects, substitution and change over time were analysed.
The systematic review identified that a significant proportion of patients, doctors and pharmacists hold negative perceptions of generics, perceiving generics as less effective, less safe, inferior in quality and more likely to cause side effects compared to their brand-name equivalents. No significant reduction in negative views of generics in doctors or patients over the course of the review period was observed.
The negative perceptions of doctors and pharmacists are, according to the authors, ‘likely to be barriers to a wider acceptance of generics, as health professionals have a strong influence on patients’ decisions to take generics’. They therefore suggest that ‘further work is needed on how interventions for medical professionals and for the public can reduce negative attitudes about efficacy, safety and side effects, in order to increase the acceptability of generics prescribing and substitution.’
A more detailed discussion of the results is presented in a series of three articles.
Conflict of interest
The authors of the research paper  declared that there were no conflicts of interest.
Readers interested to learn more about patients’ and physicians’ perceptions of generics are invited to visit www.gabi-journal.net to view the following manuscripts published in GaBI Journal:
Perceptions of physicians from private medical centres in Malaysia about generic medicine usage: a qualitative study
Views of physicians and patients with chronic conditions on generic medicines in Greece after the introduction of measures to promote their consumption: findings from a qualitative study
Readers interested in contributing a research or perspective paper to GaBI Journal– an independent, peer reviewed academic journal – please send us your submission here.
Perceptions of the substitution of generics
Perceptions of the safety and side effects of generics
Perceptions of the effectiveness and quality of generics
1. Colgan S, Faasse K, Martin LR, Stephens MH, Grey A, Petrie KJ. Perceptions of generic medication in the general population, doctors and pharmacists: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2015;5:e008915. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008915.