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Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2015 Feb;37(2):113-7.

Relevance of variation in use of terminology to define generic pharmaceutical products.

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Business Administration School of São Paulo, Center for Public Administration and Government Studies, Fundação Getulio Vargas, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.


The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes the use of generic drug policies to foster competition in the pharmaceutical sector, reduce drug prices, and increase access to therapeutic drugs. However, little is known about how countries implement these policies. This article describes different terminology adopted by national regulatory authorities to define generic versus proprietary drug products in developing countries, including those in Latin America, and challenges that arise in their application of WHO guidelines, such as labeling issues. The author concludes that variation in generics terminology in these countries is a result of institutional context (i.e., the public sector setting as well as the body of laws and regulations that exists in the country) and policy legacies, such as intellectual property regimes, and highlights the need for further analysis of pharmaceutical regulations to improve understanding of the barriers and political implications of generic drug policies.

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