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Prescribing and dispensing generics in Japan Posted 27/11/2015

Drug costs in Japan have been found to be much greater than the average of industrialized nations, which means that too many wasteful prescriptions are written for pharmaceuticals. This has been attributed to attempts by medical institutions to increase revenues by prescribing unnecessary medicines to patients. To curb this trend, the government has pushed forward with the lowering of government-set prices for prescription drugs and the separation of medical and dispensary services in its national health programme, which was implemented in 1974.

A study by Masayuki Yokoi and Takao Tashiro used publicly available data to examine the effect of the separation of dispensing and prescribing medicines between pharmacists in pharmacies and doctors in medical institutions (the separation system) and the generics replacement ratio on the cost of various medicines in Japanese administrative districts [1].

The expansion of the separation system, i.e. increase in generics dispensing, was shown to reduce the daily costs of total, internal and injection medicines as well as medical devices. Moreover, an increase in the rate of replacing brand-name medicines with generics was also shown to reduce the daily costs of total and internal medicines, but not of external and injection medicines and medical devices, because only a few or no generics of these types were sold in the Japanese market. Otherwise, expansion of the separation system was found to be effective in reducing medicine costs, apart from for external medicines.

The authors concluded that the ‘results suggest that the separation system is effective in reducing medicine costs for total, internal, and injection medicines as well as medical devices. However, external medicines had no observable effect in reducing costs.’

Conflict of interest
The authors of the research paper [1] declared that there were no conflicts of interest.

Editor’s comment
Readers interested to learn more about generics in Japan are invited to visit http://www.gabi-journal.net%20 to view the following manuscript published in GaBI Journal:

PMDA update: the current situation and future directions

Readers interested in contributing a research or perspective paper to GaBI Journal – an independent, peer reviewed academic journal – please send us your submission here.

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References

1.   Yokoi M, Tashiro T. Prescription, dispensation, and generic medicine replacement ratios: influence on Japanese medicine costs. Glob J Health Sci. 2015;8(1):45590.

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