Research by the Irish Medicines Board has found that 82% of consumers would accept a generic medicine if offered it by a doctor or pharmacist, while 90% who used generic medicines had a positive experience overall.
However, while 64% trusted their doctor’s guidance on drugs, just 31% said they would have faith in their pharmacist’s advice.
The findings have been released in advance of the Government’s plans to introduce generic substitution and reference pricing.
IMB chief executive Pat O’Mahony said he expected the initial list of interchangeable medicines used to treat cholesterol to be published on the board’s website in August.
Pharmacists will be obliged to give patients the cheapest available medicines under legislation aimed at cutting the State’s drug bill.
Mr O’Mahony said the survey of just over 1,000 adults was reassuring because it showed that adults, who were aware of generic medicines, would accept them as a substitute.
“Generic medicines meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the original branded medicines.”
However, the findings also show that 25% of people are unfamiliar with the term “generic medicine” and that 17% would not accept a generic drug if it was offered by their doctor.
Mr O’Mahony said the findings indicated that the main reason given by those unwilling to accept a generic drug was a lack of understanding. The IMB has published an information leaflet covering common questions and giving impartial advice. People will still be able to buy the more expensive branded alternative and pay the difference.
The HSE will determine the reference prices of the generic prices.