In order to ease the NHI financial pressure, the government is promoting the use of generics as a substitute for original drugs. The Consumers’ Foundation urged the government to carefully test generics and to ensure that they have the same efficacy as original drugs. The Consumers’ Foundation also advised the government to subject generics to the market mechanism, and to allow patients the rights to use original drugs by paying the price differences.
The Consumers’ Foundation pointed out that the NHI drug expenditure has reached NT$160 billion a year, about 25% of the total NHI spending. In order to ease the NHI financial burden, the government should find ways to reduce drug fees, said the consumer watchdog.
Most consumers have no knowledge about the definition and efficacy of generic drugs. Some are not even aware of the availability of generic drugs and original drugs. The Consumers’ Foundation pointed out that the NHI drug supply should be ruled by the market mechanism. If patients prefer original drugs to generics, they should not be deprived of this choice. They should be able to use their preferred drugs by paying the price difference. Also, the NHIA has to find out the reasons why generics are not as popular and improve the situation.
The Consumers’ Foundation suggested that the NHIA should start by clearing patients’ concerns. For example, there should be an exit mechanism for generics which fail the standards of “identical in ingredients, quality and price”. The authority should tighten up the review and assessment of generics.
The Consumers’ Foundation stressed that the NHIA should establish an SOP to ensure generics are identical to original drugs in ingredients, quality and price, as well as carry out random inspections to ensure the quality of generics. The NHIA should keep drug information open and transparent so as to win consumers’ confidence in generic drugs. These actions will help lower the NHI drug expenses.
The Consumers’ Foundation will play an impartial supervisory role. It will keep requesting the TFDA to publish inspection results and demanding the authorities to establish a more stringent drug review system.
【2015-12-31/ Taiwan Hsin Sheng Daily】