Opportunities arising from increased use of generics

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Ensuring the sustainability of the generic medicines industry is one of the key elements in maintaining broad access to medicines for all. To meet increasing demand from more patients who are living longer and expecting an improved quality of life, generic medicines offer quality treatment at affordable prices.


In order to ensure sustainability both investment in the generics sector and incentives for generic prescribing/dispensing are required in order to increase the market share of generics.

Driving first-line use

One alternative to focusing on the price of generics could be a treatment regimen approach for some of the major indications, such as hypertension and depression, where generic medicines represent the gold standard therapies.

This more formal approach would give confidence in using the appropriate medicine and enable future costs of therapy in these areas to be calculated. Reimbursement schemes could then be formulated for pharmacists to ensure profitability and confidence in dispensing generic medicines.

Incentivising innovation

The development expertise within the generic medicines industry is recognised as being innovative. Furthermore, generic medicine companies have produced packaging specifically designed to help patients and minimise pharmacy dispensing errors. If the pressure is only on costs, without any incentive for advancements in this area, then the full potential of developments in this area will never be reached.

Once an originator product loses exclusivity, or even well before this time, most research is terminated. Many older generic medicine molecules never maximised their therapeutic potential for this reason. In some instances, new indications or uses did appear but much later than might have been expected had the appropriate level of research continued. Unless rewarded, opportunities for further development will never be pursued and yet the benefits to patients could be significant.

Encouraging investment

Lack of flexibility in regulatory procedures and financial incentives puts European-based generic manufacturers at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the world. In many non-EU countries there exist grants, low interest loans and tax breaks, producing cost advantages which cannot be obtained within the EU. The Bolar provision, although a positive move, still does not go far enough to level the playing field.

The opportunity exists for governments to incentivise the European generics medicine sector in order to generate a sustainable generics medicine industry. This will then be able to deliver cost savings through good patient management with high quality therapies at affordable prices.

(see also The rising cost of health care in Europe, The role of generic medicines in Europe and Challenges facing generic manufacturers in Europe)


Alan Sheppard. Generic Medicines: Essential contributors to the long-term health of society. IMS Health Sector Sustainability Challenges in Europe. March 2010

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