Use of generics-a critical cost containment measure for all healthcare professionals in europe?

Brian Godman*, William Shrank, Bjorn Wettermark, Morten Andersen, Iain Bishop, Thomas Burkhardt, Kristina Garuolienè, Marija Kalaba, Ott Laius, Roberta Joppi, Catherine Sermet, Ulrich Schwabe, Inês Teixeira, F. Cankat Tulunay, Kamila Wendykowska, Corinne Zara, Lars L. Gustafsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Pharmaceutical expenditures in ambulatory care rose rapidly in Europe in the 1990s and early 2000s. This was typically faster than other components of healthcare spending, leading to reforms to moderate future growth. A number of these centered on generic medicines with measures to lower reimbursed prices as well as enhance their prescribing and dispensing. The principal objective of this paper is to review additional measures that some European countries can adopt to further reduce reimbursed prices for generics. Secondly, potential approaches to address concerns with generics when they arise to maximize savings. Measures to enhance the prescribing of generics will also briefly be discussed. A narrative review of the extensive number of publications and associated references from the co-authors was conducted supplemented with known internal or webbased articles. In addition, health authority and health insurance databases, principally from 2001 to 2007, were analyzed to assess the impact of the various measures on price reductions for generic omeprazole and generic simvastatin vs. pre-patent loss prices, as well as overall efficiency in Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) and statin prescribing. The various initiatives generally resulted in considerable lowering of the prices of generics as well as specifically for generic omeprazole and generic simvastatin vs. pre-patent loss prices. At one stage in the UK, generic simvastatin was just 2% of the originator price. These measures also led to increased efficiency for PPI and statin prescribing with reimbursed expenditure for the PPIs and statins either falling or increasing at appreciably lower rates than increases in utilization. A number of strategies have also been introduced to address patient and physician concerns with generics to maximize savings. In conclusion, whilst recent reforms have been successful, European countries must continue learning from each other to fund increased volumes and new innovative drugs as resource pressures grow. Policies regarding generics and their subsequent impact on reimbursement and utilization of single sourced products will continue to play a key role to release valuable resources. However, there must continue to be strategies to address concerns with generics when they exist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2470-2494
Number of pages25
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cost containment
  • Generic drugs
  • Generic substitution
  • Pricing


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