Strong growth for global generics market


Asia-Pacific is the largest region of a global generics market set to experience double-digit growth through to 2021, according to research experts

The global generic medicines market has registered a compound annual growth rate of 11.1% between 2012 and 2016, reaching a value of $318 billion, according to latest data from research company MarketLine.

The Asia-Pacific is the largest region in value terms, accounting for nearly half (over 46%) of the global total in 2016.

The US followed with over 31%, while Europe lagged behind at 15.6%.

However the US remains the single largest country market, with a value of $99.7 billion.

“While the US market is the most mature globally, it remains some way off saturation point,” says Nicholas Wyatt, project leader at MarketLine.

“In recent years, significant savings have been made by substituting branded drugs with generics – an estimated $227 billion in 2015.”

Mr Wyatt says the European market is currently lagging behind when it comes to generics.

“Generic medicines save EU patients and the health system over €40 billion ($53 billion) each year.

“Despite this, in markets like France, Italy and Norway, generics still account for less than half of the pharmaceuticals market as a whole, due to an enduring resistance to prescribing generics.

“Even in the UK, where generics account for an estimated 82% of prescriptions, proposals for automatic substitution have not been ratified.”

Generic medicines have not taken off in Australia as much as they have in the US or the UK.

Australians tend to be brand loyal when it comes to their prescription drugs, says the AMA’s Dr Tony Bartone, with generics making up only about 60% of Australian scripts, compared to more than 80% of US and UK scripts and 77% of New Zealand scripts.

In some instances Australian doctors seem more reticent to prescribe generic medicines.

“There are occasions where the generic option isn’t a universally good option for some parts of our patient population,” Dr Bartone explains.

He states that the fact generics and brand name medicines are chemically the same can cause a level of confusion, resulting in some patients either not taking or delaying their medication.

“There are little nuances in this area and that’s where I’m saying that it’s not universally the best option,” says Dr Bartone.

“But as long as everyone’s on the same page and aware of what is being alternatively supplied and understanding the nuances of that, it’s a perfectly legitimate option to be offered.”

In the 2017-18 Budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison announced measures to encourage doctors to increase generics prescribing.

This includes agreements with Medicines Australia and the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association, which commit to:

  • providing one-off price reductions for certain medicines that have been on the PBS for 10 and 15 years;
  • lowering of more PBS drug prices over the longer period of the compact; and
  • support for the uptake of lower-cost generic and biosimilar medicines.

The agreements are expected to deliver $1.8 billion in savings that will be reinvested into the supply of medicines, including more breakthrough therapies on the PBS.

Following the Budget announcement, the AMA formally expressed support for the Government’s measures to increase the prescribing of generic medicines “when it is safe and appropriate and discussed with the patient, and preserves doctors’ clinical and prescribing independence,” with savings to be invested back into the PBS.

“Fundamental to all discussions was the principal that a physician has the right in consultation with their patient to determine the exact treatment that is prescribed and dispensed,” said Medicines Australia Chairman Wes Cook, reassuring doctors.

“This principle is upheld in the agreement with appropriate, physician-determined introduction to biosimilar and generic medicines.”

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