Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
The pharmaceutical division of the Department of Health revealed that Filipinos favor generic medicines over branded ones but they still pay more for “branded generics” than true generics.
Dr. Ana Melissa Guerrero, chief of the DOH pharmaceutical division, said branded generics comprise 52 percent of the country’s drug market share and true generic drugs, only six percent.
According to Guerrero, if a “true generic” drug costs P3, a branded generic may sell for P15, and the cost of the same drug may be more than double if it is branded.
Branded generics are produced by big pharmaceutical companies, such as Unilab’s Ritemed and PhilUSA’s Rhea Generics.
Dr. Guerrero rued that true generics still lack availability and accessibility to customers. “For DOH, there are only two kinds of medicines: branded or generics,” she said. “Only the true low-cost generics are the ones available in government.”
Under the Generic Act of 1988, “generic drugs” are medicines not covered by patent protection and re-labelled solely by their generic name or formulation.
If the DOH wants to increase the usage of true generics among Filipinos, it not only has to spearhead the improvements in availability and accessibility, it also has to reach out and educate more Filipinos on the advantages and efficacy of generic medicines. Additionally, government has to increase public confidence in generics by ensuring that fake medicines do not enter the country and our pharmacies, because it is this fear of fake generic medicines that compel people to turn to the “branded generics” that currently dominate the market when there are true generic medicines that are more affordable and should be as effective.
It has been proven over the years that cost and affordability alone will not make the Filipino people shift to true generics. The DOH must do more to convince Filipinos to put their trust in true generic medicines.*