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Letter to the editor

Editor, – I refer to the editorial 'Quality use of generic medicines' (Aust Prescr 2004;27:80-1).

Confusion resulting from the availability of multi-sourced brands of medications is predictable within our rapidly changing prescribing and dispensing environments.

For decades, prescribing by manufacturers' brand names was manageable when most medications were available as a single brand. It should also be noted that brand names are required for all products as part of Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulatory requirements.

Australia has a growing generics segment. This is synonymous with growing numbers of brands of the same medications and it is time for current prescribing practices to be reviewed to determine better ways to manage multi-sourced brands.

An Australian Pharmaceutical Advisory Council (APAC) subcommittee has concluded that Australia should move towards increased use of active ingredient names. In the UK, this has served to educate the public and health professionals to identify medications, primarily, by their international (approved) active ingredient names and not by local, brand names.

As per the authors' comments, increased prominence of active ingredient names is being recommended by various health committees to assist patients and professionals.

An APAC subcommittee will shortly deliver a report on the management of these issues. This report will address concerns about confusion related to over-reliance by all stakeholders on brand names. The process has begun to make some simple but essential improvements to the management of all medications by speaking and writing more in the language of medicine and less in the language of marketing.

Mike Hobbs
Director, Sales and Marketing
Hexal Australia
Pyrmont, NSW