New Law Mandates the Use of Generic Names in Prescriptions
Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies approved a reform of the General Health Law that mandates the use of the generic medication name in medical prescriptions, rather than brand names. The publication in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) states that medications will be identified by their generic and distinctive names during their use, prescription and marketing.
To facilitate this transition, the Ministry of Health will promote the necessary measures and actions to inform the population about the safety, efficacy and quality of generic and biosimilar medicines. Likewise, in the training programs for health personnel, the Ministry will inform professionals of the new requirement for medical prescriptions and other regulatory provisions issued for this purpose. It will also strengthen the training of pharmacy personnel.
This reform is one of the actions the country is taking to improve prescription practices, which also include other new technologies and novel strategies to increase access to medications. The recent reform will be a way to continue supporting access to quality medicine, said Rafael Maciel, President, AMEGI.
The WHO supports the use of generic names during the prescribing of medications at all times in healthcare facilities because prescribing using generic names allows patients to use any suitable chemical substitute of the drug, rather than a particular brand. Hence, a wider range of alternative preparations can be used so patients are not limited to one, which may not be stocked.
The WHO’s “Guide to Good Prescribing” explains that doctors regularly receive information on new drugs, side effects and indications, among other information, but warns that “the latest and the most expensive drug is not necessarily the best, the safest or the most cost-effective.”
The systematic prescription of brand-names instead of generic names gives patients less treatment options and higher costs on their purchases. A US study found that “branded drugs frequently requested by prescribers or patients were expensive and had substantially more affordable generics, thus generating increased spending for the Medicare program and beneficiaries.”
Moreover, “brand-name drugs often vary among countries, which means that foreign drugs may have the same brand name as a domestic one but contain different ingredients,” according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal.