Generic medicine prescribing has become a common practice in public hospitals. However, the trend in private medical centres seems to be different. The objective of this study was to investigate knowledge, perceptions and behavior of physicians from private medical centres in Malaysia regarding generic medicines.
This study was a cross-sectional nationwide survey targeting physicians from private medical centres in Malaysia. The survey was conducted using questionnaire having (i) background and demographic data of the physicians, volume of prescription in a day, stock of generic medicines in their hospital pharmacy etc. (ii) their knowledge about bioequivalence (iii) prescribing behavior (iv) physicians' knowledge of quality, safety and efficacy of generic medicines, and their cost (v) perceptions of physicians towards issues pertaining to generic medicines utilization.
A total of 263 questionnaires out of 735 were received, giving a response rate of 35.8%. Of the respondents, 214 (81.4%) were male and 49 (18.6%) were females. The majority of the participants were in the age range of 41-50 years and comprised 49.0% of the respondents. Only 2.3% of physicians were aware of the regulatory limits of bioequivalence standards in Malaysia. Of the respondents, 23.2% agreed that they 'always' write their prescriptions using originator product name whereas 50.2% do it 'usually'. A number of significant associations were found between their knowledge, perceptions about generic medicines and their demographic characteristics.
The majority of the physicians from private medical centres in Malaysia had negative perceptions about safety, quality and the efficacy of generic medicines. These negative perceptions could be the cause of the limited use of generic medicines in the private medical centres. Therefore, in order to facilitate their use, it is recommended that the physicians need to be reassured and educated about the drug regulatory authority approval system of generic medicines with regard to their bioequivalence, quality, efficacy and safety. Apart from the policy on generic substitution, it would also be recommended to have a national medicine pricing policy, which controls drug prices, in both the public and private sector. These efforts are worthwhile to reduce the drug expenditure and improve the medicine affordability in Malaysia.