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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2011 Feb;67(2):193-201. doi: 10.1007/s00228-010-0960-9. Epub 2010 Dec 16.

Special challenges for drug adherence following generic substitution in Pakistani immigrants living in Norway.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.



This study aims to explore how long-term drug users with a Pakistani background living in Oslo (Norway) perceive generic substitution and how generic substitution influences drug adherence in this population.


Personal interviews using a semi-structured questionnaire were carried out with 83 Pakistani immigrants (aged 40-80 years) who were using antihypertensives, antidiabetics, and/or cholesterol-lowering drugs.


In all, 73% of the participants were using generic drugs at the time of the interview. Of these, 10% were erroneously using two equivalent generics at the same time. One quarter of the participants were of the opinion that cheaper generic drugs were counterfeit drugs. Two thirds had accepted generic substitution in the pharmacy whereas the remaining participants had either opposed or were unaware of the substitution. Of those who had accepted substitution, 27% claimed that the effect of the new drug was poorer and 20% reported more side-effects. Generic substitution had resulted in concerns about the therapy in 41% of the patients, and 26% thought it had become more demanding to keep track of their medication. Poor adherence tended to be most common among patients who were not fluent in Norwegian, patients who had concerns about medicine use, and patients who had accepted generic substitution in the pharmacy.


This study shows that generic substitution may have a negative effect on drug adherence in Pakistani immigrants in Oslo (Norway) because of concerns and misconceptions, including confusion with regard to counterfeit drugs. Problems result primarily from inadequate information caused by language barriers but also from culturally conditioned views on encounters with the health care system.

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