A recent NAM survey shows that people living with HIV in
understand why branded HIV drugs might be changed for generic versions, and are
sympathetic to the need for cost savings. However, respondents would be
uncomfortable with a switch to generics if it meant a reduction in how well their
HIV treatment worked, resulted in new side-effects or food restrictions, or
meant they had to take doses more frequently.
Appropriate information for people
with HIV is essential to address any possible unease and confusion
surrounding generic use and to ensure high treatment standards are maintained.
Why ask about generic HIV drugs?
NAM publishes information for
people living with HIV, so it is important for us to understand and address information
needs around HIV treatment. We also publish information for professionals who
prescribe HIV treatment and support people to take HIV treatment, so we have a
role to play in supporting those professionals to communicate effectively with
the people in their care.
anti-HIV drugs are already available as generic versions. In the next few
years, some of the most widely used antiretrovirals will come off patent in the
The potential for saving money spent on anti-HIV drugs is great, as HIV
treatment is expensive and lifelong and generic versions are significantly
cheaper than branded drugs. However, the potential cost-saving needs to be
balanced against any disadvantages to switching that might affect someone’s
ability to take these life-saving drugs as prescribed.
To find out
more about what people living with HIV in the UK think about generic anti-HIV drugs,
we recently ran a confidential, online survey.
What do people living with HIV in
think about generic drugs?
ran for a month, over April and May 2013. We asked people about their knowledge
of generic medicines, and what concerns they might have if they were asked to
switch from any branded HIV drug to a generic one.
In total, 122
people with HIV completed the questionnaire (110 respondents were male, average
age 41.9 years). 88.5% of respondents knew what a generic drug is and 70.2%
thought a generic would offer better value for money than a branded drug.
of respondents (45.5%) said they would find it annoying, confusing, inconvenient
or concerning if their doctor asked them to switch to a generic drug. The
majority felt uncomfortable about changes in efficacy (68%) and side-effects
(65%) associated with changing from a branded to a generic medicine; respondents
generally felt more uncomfortable about a change in how their regimen would be
taken (56%), such as the number of pills a day, or food restrictions, than a
change in medication appearance or packaging (8%).
that information is a vital part of empowering people living with HIV to
participate in decisions about their treatment and supports a healthy
respondents appeared to have a good relationship with their doctor. The
majority understand what their doctor tells them and discussions
regarding treatment are mostly two-way, with respondents asking lots (22%) or
some (47%) questions and being actively involved in treatment decisions (43%). Very
few respondents relied on their doctor as the only source of information
(7.4%), with many supplementing information given to them by their doctor and
other healthcare professionals with online information from HIV organisations
(63.4%) and/or other websites (19.7%).
to everyone who took the time to complete the survey. We submitted a poster
detailing the survey results to the HIV Pharmacy Association (HIVPA) conference
this month and you can download
a PDF of the poster here.
The survey and abstract were both
financially supported with no editorial control by Boehringer Ingelheim.