Purpose: In 2007, Malaysia adopted a National Medicines Policy to ensure access to essential medicines through the implementation of generic medicines policy. Despite the presence of this strong policy, the use of generics among consumers is still low. Studies on perception towards generic medicines and the willingness to choose them are important determinants for the success of the generics policy. The objective of this study was to evaluate perceptions and beliefs regarding the efficacy, safety, cost, and preferences for personal use of generics in Malaysia. Method: A cross-sectional survey using a validated questionnaire was conducted on 405 respondents living in urban and suburban areas in Malaysia. Results: Almost 40% of the respondents surveyed had negative perceptions about generics. There was no significant difference in beliefs of consumers about generics for acute and chronic conditions. Only a quarter of the respondents reported receiving information about generics from their health care providers, although the younger generation (25- to 34-year olds) adopted a more proactive approach in communicating with health care providers about generic options. While more than 60% reckoned that Malaysians spent too much money for the prescription medicines and a majority agreed that generics offer a better overall value, surprisingly only less than half preferred to take generics themselves. Mixed perceptions concerning the role of private insurers and the government in providing a standard guideline of generics use was observed. Personal financial savings remained the chief reason of willingness to use generics (70%). Conclusions: Consumers' perceptions and knowledge about generics in Malaysia is poor, hence, there is a need for education. Health care providers should be educated and reassured about the approval system of generics concerning bioequivalence, and safety. These findings have significant implications in establishing an effective and sustainable generic medicines policy and promoting the practice of generic substitution in Malaysia.
- Generic medicines
- Original brand medicines