Branded and generic medicines: does pharmacy education change preferences?


  • J. Green
  • H. Arnold
  • A. Beech
  • W. Burroughs
  • K. Hadley
  • E. Harris
  • S. Sullivan


Background: Generic medicines provide a low-cost, safe, effective alternative to branded medicines. Despite their objective similarity, patients often prefer branded medicines, imposing costs to the patient and health system, and may lead to lower adherence for generic medicines. The aim of this study was to examine explicit and implicit preferences for branded and generic medicines, and to determine whether formal education on medicine changed these preferences. Methods: 309 university students participated in this cross sectional study. Participants completed questions on understanding and knowledge of generic and branded medicines, their preference for specific branded and generic medicines, their ability to identify branded medicines, Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire (BMQ) general, Perceived Sensitivity to Medicines (PSM), and Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP) measure of implicit attitude toward branded and generic medicines. Findings: Pharmacy students were more confident of their understanding of generic (d = 1.2) and branded medicines (d = 0.9), and were more correctly able to define branded and generic medicines, χ2 = 5.0, p = .03. Surprisingly, pharmacy students were not better at identifying branded medicines, and had similar preferences. Students better able to define the difference preferred more generics, d = 0.4. There were no differences between pharmacy and non-pharmacy students on the AMP measure. Discussion: Despite pharmacy students being explicitly taught that generic medicines are as good as branded medicines, this had little influence. This has clear implications for encouraging the public about the benefits of generic medicines, as it appears even tertiary education on the matter has little impact.





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