Generics substitution in Finland: a pharmacy customer perspective Posted 19/06/2020

Generics offer less expensive alternatives to brand-name drugs. However, they must be accepted by patients to increase uptake and reduce healthcare cost. Finland adopted generics substitution in 2003. Then, in 2009, this was supplemented with a reference price system. A recent survey [1] has shown that the price of medicine is key for Finnish pharmacy customers.

In 2018, 1,043 Finnish pharmacy customers over the age of 18, were surveyed to explore reasons for allowing and refusing generics substitution. The results showed that, these customers, almost 50% had both refused and allowed generics substitution in the past, just over 40% had always allowed substitution and 6% had always refused substitution.

The survey also revealed the reasons behind customer decisions. Just over 75% of customers allowed substitution to reduce medical bills. Almost 60% of customers had allowed substitution because their prescribed medicine or the medicine they had used before, was unavailable. On the other hand, customers refused generics substitution when the price difference between interchangeable medicines was insignificant (over 60%) and when they were satisfied with the medicine used before (just over 60%).

Overall, the main factors influencing customers’ choice of an interchangeable prescription medicine were priced (over 80%), familiarity (almost 40%) and availability (just over 30%). Customers who had allowed substitution chose the medicine based on price. Customers who had only refused substitution appreciated familiarity with the medicine more than its price.

The survey highlighted that it is important to make price information available. However, customers do regard several factors when making choices about interchangeable medicines.

Related articles
Policies to lower prices of generics in Austria and Finland

Reference pricing and generics in Finland

Factors important for generics substitution in Finland

Reference
1. Nokelainen H, Lämsä E, Ahonen R. Reasons for allowing and refusing generic substitution and factors determining the choice of an interchangeable prescription medicine: a survey among pharmacy customers in Finland. BMC Health Serv Res. 2020;20(1):82.

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