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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Abu Dhabi patients to have wider access to generic drugs

More choice will be available from September 1, when generic drugs will also be covered by health insurance

Healthcare regulators in Abu Dhabi are making it easier for patients and doctors to choose to use generic medicine.

The Department of Health has introduced a mechanism to commission the dispensing of generic medicine with the same efficacy and safety for patients as that of more expensive, branded medicine.

From September 1, generic drugs will be covered by health insurance to increase access to medicine and medical innovation.

Patients will be offered the choice of branded or generic medicine by paying the price difference between the reference price and that of selected generic or branded medicine.

The department has developed reference reimbursement medicine pricing, where drugs judged to be similar are clustered together under a single level of reimbursement.

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Excluded from the official list are single-source drugs as well as narrow-therapeutic-window medicine that may require drug monitoring.

Generic drugs can cost a fifth of branded medicine, according to the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

Doctors there prescribe about 90 per cent generic drugs, with the UK, Germany and France prescribing about 80 per cent.

Health insurance professionals have previously called on regulators to encourage doctors to prescribe more generic drugs.

They say healthcare providers could save Dh2.3 billion by prescribing drugs that are just as effective as branded pharmaceuticals.

The money saved could be better spent increasing healthcare benefits elsewhere, they argue.