Exploring knowledge, perceptions and attitudes about generic medicines among final-year health science students
Background. The use of generic medicines to reduce healthcare costs has become a mandated policy in South Africa. An increase in the use of generics can be achieved through improved knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of generic medicine among healthcare professionals.
Objective. To explore knowledge, attitudes and perceptions among final-year health science students on generic medication.
Methods. A cross-sectional survey was carried out among the final-year audiology, dental therapy, pharmacy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, optometry, speech-language and sport science students enrolled at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. A questionnaire was used as the study tool, developed using information adapted from literature reviews. Data analysis was completed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21, and computed using descriptive statistics.
Results. Total number of participants was 211, as follows: audiology (n=14), dental therapy (n=15), pharmacy (n=81), physiotherapy (n=41), occupational therapy (n=6), optometry (n=25), speech-language (n=6) and sport science (n=23). A total of 90.0% of students had heard of generic medicines, with 20.9% of them agreeing that generic medicines are less effective than brand-name medicines. Concerning safety, 30.4% believed that brand-name medicines are required to meet higher safety standards than generic medicines. Regarding the need for information on issues pertaining to safety and efficacy of medicines, 53.3% of participants felt that this need was not being met.
Conclusion. All groups had knowledge deficits about the safety, quality and efficacy of generic medicines. The dissemination of information about generic medicines may strengthen future knowledge, attitudes and perceptions.