Generic campaign

Published: Monday 15 May 2006

Drugs Japan

Low use of generic drugs in Japan has prompted one of their largest manufacturers to initiate an advertising campaign to promote their use.

The us $3.4-million television advertising campaign by Osaka-based Sawei, began in April. The advertisements, to be telecast for one month, are aimed at reassuring the people that generic drugs are safe and urging them to ask their doctor to prescribe generics. Doctors in Japan have been known to prescribe brand names even in cases where the patent on a product has expired and much-cheaper generics are available. The company is also recruiting sales representatives who will sensitise the country's doctors about the importance of generic drugs.

The Japanese government is promoting the move, as it is likely to reduce the public health costs for the country. Last year, the government came up with a scheme to encourage doctors to specify on a prescription that patients could be given a generic version. Currently, Japanese pharmacists cannot dispense generic drugs not specially requested by the doctor.

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