I am starting a new discussion series in this blog, "Generic Drugs Asia". Mainly about the Conference of Generic Dtugs in Asia (CGDA), November 19-21, held in Taipei, Taiwan. There were so many information imparted over the past two days, I should write about them little by little.
Below is my article yesterday while I was still in the hotel in Taipei. It is posted today in the online magazine,
There were four of us from the Philippines who came to the conference. Ms. Leonila Ocampo, President of the Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPhA) where the association is a member of FAPA; Ms. Nazarita Tacandong,Deputy Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Jose Maria “Joey” Ochave, SVP of United laboratories (Unilab), and me We were all speakers on different panels.
The conference has four main themes or panels. (1) generics, scientific and legal standing points, (2) government policies for generics, (3) development and contribution of generics, and (4) generics , the perspectives of healthcare providers and patients/consumers. I spoke on the last panel to discuss the view of consumers, not only of generic drugs but also of innovator drugs and healthcare system in general. See my notes about the conference before coming here, also Part 1 of this discussion, Generic Drugs and the Consumers.
Panel 3 has lots of good speakers from among the biggest generic producers in Asia – from Japan, Korea, Philippines, India and Taiwan. Mr. MV Ramana from Dr. Reddy’s, the world’s 12th biggest generic manufacturers, spoke for India. For the Philippines, Joey Ochave of Unilab, the 17th biggest generic producer in the world, spoke. Joey talked about the Philippine pharma market (80 percent of total generics market, and 23 percent of total value including innovator drugs held by Unilab), an assessment of the Generics Act of 1988, the WTO TRIPS flexibilities on intellectual property rights (IPR) on medicines, the Philippine’s intellectual property code (IPC), the Cheaper Medicines Law (RA 9502) and how drug price control policy was inserted into the law when it was not there in the previous bills. Joey was the usual articulate and clear speaker. Even if I know a number of the topics that he discussed, I still learn many new things and insights as I listen to him.
In panel 4, the main presentation was made by Dr. Leslie Benet of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Medicine, University of California in San Francisco. The guy is a big name in the international pharmacy research, he is also a tall guy with a big voice that he needed no microphone to speak even in an auditorium. His bottom line presentation is this: “No prospective study has ever found that an FDA approved generic product does not show the same clinical efficacy and safety as the innovator product, even when special populations (eg elderly, women, severely sick patients) are studied.”
His conclusion would be consistent with the presentation by Dr. Shah of the US FDA the day before as Dr. Shah showed how stringent, how strict, the FDA is in approving any generic drugs to be sold in any drugstore in the US.
For my part, I spoke on “Generics, Perspective from Consumers”. My six-point conclusions were: (a) consumer interest is more choices and options for each molecule or generic category, (b) reduce or remove taxes on medicines and withraw drug price control policy, (c) government should focus its resources on fighting substandard and fake drugs, (d) expanding generics only retailers (GORs) improve access of patients to generic products, (e) drug innovation + generics complement each other in protecting the public, and (f) on drug switching, physicians and pharmacists should guide patients.
The organizers also arranged three dinner banquet for us speakers, moderators, organizers and sponsors of the conference. So many nice food and drinks, while exchanging notes and information beyond the plenary and conference hall. I thank again FAPA and the Pharmaceutical Society of Taiwan for organizing that first conference on the subject in Asia. It will become an annual conference around Asia in the future, and healthcare providers, regulators, professionals and consumers/patients will learn a lot from such important event.