In New Zealand, the use of generic medicines is advocated by the Pharmaceutical Management Agency of New Zealand (PHARMAC). Among other interventions, PHARMAC uses educational awareness campaigns to educate pharmacists to promote the uptake of generic medicines. However, the opinion of pharmacists regarding these interventions has not yet been evaluated.Objectives:
The objective of this study was to explore pharmacists' opinions regarding PHARMAC's interventions in promoting medicine brand changes.Method:
A cross-sectional study design was employed to explore pharmacists' opinions regarding brand changes. A questionnaire was sent to 500 randomly selected pharmacists in New Zealand. In second component of the study, five community pharmacies in the Auckland region were selected through convenience sampling, and a semi-structured interview was conducted with a pharmacist in each site.Results:
One-hundred and eighty seven questionnaires were returned and analyzed (response rate of 37.4%). Sixty-eight percent of pharmacists supported brand changes and 98.4% mentioned that PHARMAC is responsible for informing them of brand changes. Over half (51.3%) of pharmacists found the current interventions effective, and 39.6% were satisfied with the current brand change information provided by PHARMAC. The majority (94.7%) of pharmacists currently receive faxed information but many indicated (70.8%) that they prefer email notifications. Cilazapril was considered the least difficult medicine to substitute in the past 10 years and omeprazole the most difficult. Patient acceptance and claims about effectiveness were the main factors in determining the difficulty of brand substitution. Fewer than half of the respondents felt that interventions were implemented with enough preparation time for a brand change. The ideal lead–in time was in the range of three to six months. Pharmacists expressed a number of concerns about brand changes such as the frequency at which they occur and the lack of generic stock availability when a brand change occurs.Conclusion:
Over one-third of respondents were satisfied with brand change information provided by PHARMAC. Cilazapril was the least difficult medicine to substitute, while omeprazole and salbutamol changes were the most difficult. Claims about effectiveness, quality and side effects were the main factors identified as barriers to generic substitution.