Most Europeans able to differentiate generic from brand medicines

19 January 2010

A survey of patients in seven European countries has found that 71% of patients claim to know the difference between generic medicines and brand medicines.

Those able to differentiate generic medicines from brand medicines are  slightly higher educated than the general population. The 45+ age group is also more familiar with generic alternatives than younger patients, and men more so than women.

“What is surprising is that in those countries where generic medicines are highly established — for example in Germany — fewer patients report the ability to differentiate brand medicines from generic medicines. This would at first glance appear to be a contradiction, though these figures do possibly suggest that some generic products have simply become a brand for many consumers,” says Magali Geens, Director Health Research at InSites Consulting.

Of those people familiar with generic medicines, 9 out of 10 also have experience with these medicines.Simply being aware of the alternatives therefore appears to be sufficient for patients to use generic medicines. 83% believe that generic medicines are as effective as the original formulas.

Opinions are strongly divided on the question whether generic medicines contain the same active components as brand products — 56% believe this is the case, while 44% have doubts.

“Fact is that generic medicines must contain the same active component as the original product,” explains Magali Geens, Director Health Research at InSites Consulting. “The formula may however deviate somewhat from the original brand formula. The extent to which deviations are permitted is of course strictly regulated.”

The study was carried out earlier this year in seven European countries — Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy. An online survey was used as research method. Over 1,000 registrations (of illnesses) were made per country and over 2,800 patients filled in the questionnaire.


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