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Improving access to medicines: the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement

In a recent review, authors ‘t Hoen, Kujinga and Boulet describe the role of the Doha Declaration on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement in improving access to essential medicines [1].

Patent challenges in the SADC region

High pharmaceutical prices restrict access to essential medicines. New medicines are often patent protected which sustains prices well above the cost of production. This problem was particularly apparent during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the late 1990s. At this time, 40 million people were believed to be infected with HIV in the developing world and only one in a thousand had access to the required antiretroviral medicines (ARVs). This situation led to conflicts regarding patents for HIV medicines, only a few years after the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. TRIPS established international standards to protect intellectual property, including a 20-year patent protection for medicines.

Generic irbesartan is safe and effective, shows phase IV trial

Generic versions of the anti-hypertensive irbesartan are equally effective as their branded counterparts, finds a phase IV study conducted in Korea. The study also found that irbesartan is less effective in patients with a high body mass index (BMI) or a history of anti-hypertensive use, suggesting more intensive treatment may be needed in some patients [1].

Prices for infectious disease treatments and how to reduce them

A recent review from Harvard Medical School explores the factors fuelling high drug prices in the US, suggesting several ways to avoid exorbitant pricing, including increasing clinician awareness of healthcare costs [1].

Generic Drug User Fee Act is a benefit to the Indian pharmaceutical industry, study finds

The Generic Drug User Fee Act (GDUFA) has had positive effects on generics manufacturers in India, providing increased return on investment and encouraging compliance with US regulation, recent analysis suggests [1].

Adherence to generic versus brand-name statins and associated clinical and economic outcomes

Despite evidence supporting the efficacy of statins for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease, a lack of adherence to statin treatment continues to be a major problem. Sicras-Mainar and colleagues investigated real-world treatment persistence and medical possession for generic versus brand-name statins used in routine clinical practice, and assessed associated clinical and economic outcomes [1].

Costs and prices of entecavir to treat Hepatitis B

In an analysis of the costs and target prices of Hepatitis B treatment entecavir, author Andrew Hill from Liverpool University, UK and colleagues from Imperial College London, UK and Howard University, Washington DC, USA investigated how use of generics is affecting the cost of Hepatitis B treatment around the world [1].

Mixed beliefs about generics among patients in a Malaysian hospital

The Malaysian Government is heavily subsidizing public healthcare expenditure in order to provide access to health care for all citizens. In 2017, total healthcare expenditure in the country was approximately 9.4% of the annual budget. In order to overcome the increasing cost of health care, the government has implemented a National Generic Medicine Policy in 2006 to promote healthier competition in medicine pricing and to make medicines more affordable to the general public. After 10 years of policy implementation, authors from the Ministry of Health Malaysia assess patients' beliefs about generics.

Market evolution of new drug formulations

Brand-name drug manufacturers sometimes create modified versions of their approved drugs which can include new strengths, dosage forms, or delivery routes. This product modification can meaningfully increase patient treatment options; however, some cases have come under scrutiny as they do not offer any clear therapeutic advantages. This second practice is a form of ‘product hopping’, a method used by manufacturers to prolong revenue streams related to market exclusivity. Complementary strategies such as product discontinuation can augment the impact of product hopping.

Factors associated with increased side effects and lower perceived efficacy when switching to a generic

In 2017, the New Zealand Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC) changed the funded version of the antidepressant venlafaxine from Efexor XR (the branded originator) or Arrow-Venlafaxine XR (a generic version) to a new generic, Enlafax XR. MacKrill and Petrie examined differences in preferences and perceptions between patients switched from the originator branded venlafaxine to the new generic, and those switched from the old generic version [1]. Specifically, they investigated the factors associated with preference for branded medicines, side effects reported following switching and efficacy ratings of the new generic.