Background Generic drugs are potentially a major tool in controlling health spending. However, they continue to generate debate and controversy among doctors and pharmacists and raise many questions.
Purpose To investigate the attitudes to generic drugs of prescribers and pharmacists practicing in university hospital centres in Tunisia.
Materials and methods A prospective study was carried out among 355 physicians and 102 pharmacists in the university hospitals by means of two questionnaires.
Results Our study shows that 98% of pharmacists versus 59% of physicians knew the body responsible for granting authorisation to market for generic drugs. Only 6.47% of doctors versus 35.5% of pharmacists knew the exact definition of generic drugs. 62.8% and 77.4% of doctors and pharmacists respectively believed that generics always have the same efficiency as the original formulation; half of physicians and pharmacists believed that Tunisian generics were as effective as European and north American generics. 45.1% of prescribers versus 39.2% of pharmacists judged that Tunisian generics are evaluated according to international norms and standards. 43% of prescribers reported that their generic prescribing rate was between 50 and 80%. The lower cost is the factor that most influences the prescription of generics. Only 3.7% of physicians versus 21.6% of pharmacist reported that they were well informed on the generics policy in Tunisia. As to the right of substitution by a pharmacist, 42.3% of doctors and the majority of pharmacists are aware of the existence of a law governing this right; 54.6% of doctors were in favour of this law. 92% of pharmacists found that the entitlement to substitute is an important advance for their profession.
Conclusions In spite of their contribution to the development of generic drugs, prescribers and pharmacists are sceptical about the effectiveness of generic drugs compared to originator medicines. Therefore, the knowledge level of physicians and pharmacists about generic drugs appears to need consolidating to strengthen their confidence in these generics.
No conflict of interest.
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