How generic medicines increase patient access to treatment

The UK writes the most generic prescriptions across Europe and generics play a vital role in ensuring the sustainability of the country’s healthcare sector.

In total GPs in the UK write NHS prescriptions for more than one billion medicines each year and more than 75% of those are for generic versions of branded medicines.

In fact, across Europe, the UK writes more prescriptions for generics than any other country, while still offering, on average, the lowest prices for the generic medicines that its citizens use.

These generic medicines all contain the same active pharmaceutical ingredient as the original branded drug on which they are based, and have been shown to be bioequivalent, which is to say that they deliver equal medical benefits to the patient. 

In The Supply of Generic Medicines in the UK report, which Oxera prepared for The British Generic Manufacturers Association, it was found that generics can offer greater choice, lower prices and a higher level of supply security.

As the economic consultants noted in their report: “The current UK system provides strong incentives for competition and delivers significant benefits relative to other systems.”

Additionally, generics also incentivise pharmaceutical companies to discover a greater number of new, and better medicines, but giving them a finite window of time in which to commercialise their discoveries before cheaper alternatives arrive.

Once an originator medicine loses its patent and becomes generic its price usually drops by 70% within the first six months and then falls 80-90% further over a four-year period.

This price competition ensures that the UK’s healthcare system can treat more patients for the same money, ensuring patients receive the right medicine at the right time.

Looking to the future, and to allow this to continue, it is important to create a truly sustainable model where the focus is on value, and not just pricing.

Read more about this topic in Accord Healthcare’s Spotlight on The Future Of Generics