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Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2011 Feb;20(2):185-91. doi: 10.1002/pds.2084. Epub 2010 Dec 23.

Do people regard cheaper medicines effective? Population survey on public opinion of generic substitution in Finland.

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  • 1Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Social Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland. reeta.heikkila@uef.fi



Generic substitution (GS) is an important way to decrease medical costs. We aimed to study the opinions and attitudes of Finnish people about GS five years after it was introduced, the reasons for substituting and what people think about generic medicines.


We sent a postal survey to a random stratified population sample of 3000 Finnish people aged at least 18 years in 2008. The random sample was drawn from five mainland counties. The sampling was conducted by the Finnish Population Register Centre. The response rate was 62% (n=1844) after exclusion of unobtainable addressees (n=34).


Most of the respondents (70.9%) considered GS a good law reform. However, there were many respondents who were unsure about their opinion (26.9%). The respondents also held the opinion that cheaper medicines are effective (80.9%) and that GS does not cause any risk to drug safety (84.9%). Most of the respondents (88.4%) who had substituted their medicines had not noticed any difference between the previously used and substituted medicines. Two main reasons for substituting were a desire to save money and recommendation by pharmacists. Of the respondents, 16.3% had experience with both substituting and refusing it. The percentage of the respondents who only had experience with refusing GS was 8.6%. Female gender, older age and use of prescription drugs were associated with refusing.


Finnish people consider GS a good reform. They also have confidence in the effect of cheaper medicines. Savings are the main reason for accepting GS.

Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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