By Dr. Christakis Sergidis
Director of Chemical Laboratories and Research Medochemie
In the modern world with increasing needs for providing health services, identical (generic) drugs are the godsend for society, since they ensure patients' access to high-quality, safe and effective medicines, while reducing the cost of pharmaceutical care.
It is also no coincidence that the statement made a few days ago by the Health Insurance Organization, characterizing generic (homoactive) drugs as the “backbone of the National Health Systems”.
What are homoactive drugs?
However, in order to understand the importance of this statement, we should first understand what homoactive drugs are and what their benefits are, both for our health and for society itself.
A co-active drug contains the same active ingredient – the driving force behind the therapeutic action of a drug – like the original product on which it is based. It is subject to the same strict licensing process and offers the same high quality and efficiency, but at a significantly lower cost.
Also, before being marketed, the identical drug must be proven, through scientific comparison, to be bioequivalent to the original. That is, it presents the same speed of release and extent of bioavailability of the active substance in the body, when it is administered in the same dose. Simply put, the same active drug is produced to the exact same standards and is just as effective as the original, but at a much lower price than the original.
Stereotypes and perceptions in Cypriot society
In Cyprus, in relation to other developed countries, the use of homoactive drugs is clearly lower, due to the stereotypes and the narrative that has prevailed, about reduced effective action.
In fact, this is a myth, as homoactive drugs are substantially similar to the originals and are available on the market after the original drug's patent or “patent” has expired. At the same time, they occupy one of the highest positions in the table of exports of Cypriot pharmaceutical products to countries with developed Health Systems.
In fact, the Health Insurance Organization, as part of the training of beneficiaries and health workers in relation to the change of culture around the use of synergistic drugs, constantly informs beneficiaries of the possibilities and options they have within the System.
The basic selection of modern Health Systems
The use of synergistic drugs is a common practice of all modern Health Systems in developed countries, with proven benefits both for the System and for the beneficiaries. On the one hand, the System saves resources, which it can allocate to the inclusion of new pharmaceutical products and the coverage of the ever-increasing needs presented by the health sector. On the other hand, the choice of homoactive medicines for the beneficiaries has an additional significant financial benefit, since the expenses borne by the beneficiary for health issues are reduced.
The research of the Association for Accessible Medicines (October 2021 report) is also indicative ), according to which generic drugs achieved $2.4 trillion in savings over the past decade in the US health care system, and in 2020 alone they saved $338 billion.
Therefore, without compromising quality or consumer safety, identical (generic) drugs can offer the same results as original drugs, while helping to reduce health costs, especially in times of global economic crisis.