Historical overview of generic medication policy.

F. J. Ascione, D. M. Kirking, C. A. Gaither, L. S. Welage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To provide a historical perspective on controversies surrounding the use of generic drugs. DATA SOURCES: Articles were indexed initially using terms such as generic medications, generic drugs, multisource medications, and multisource drugs. These terms were used to search indexing services such as MEDLINE, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, CINAHL (a database of nursing and allied health literature), Science Citation Index, Psychological Abstracts, and Wilson Indexes to Journal Articles. STUDY SELECTION: Performed by the authors, with preference given to events from 1951 to the present. DATA EXTRACTION: Not applicable. DATA SYNTHESIS: The history of generic drug use is a history of conflict from a variety of perspectives. The primary conflict is economic, in which manufacturers of brandname pharmaceuticals aggressively seek to protect their patents from a variety of groups (e.g., the federal government, managed care organizations, consumer groups) that want access to less expensive medications. Another conflict is professional, especially for the members of the pharmacy profession who view drug product selection as an important opportunity for pharmacists to use their professional judgment. The most confusing conflict is the scientific discussion of bioequivalence and product quality. The brand manufacturers suggest that not all products are bioequivalent and of the same quality. This position has been opposed by the pharmacy profession, generic drug manufacturers, health care institutions, and the Food and Drug Administration. CONCLUSION: Generic drug use has increased dramatically during the past 50 years and is an accepted part of health care. However, the economic consequences of generic drug use are sufficiently high for this activity to continue as a source of controversy in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-577
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (Washington,D.C. : 1996)
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Welage is a consultant for AstraZeneca, Wyeth-Ayerst, and Pharmacia, and has received funding from Eli lilly, AstraZeneca, Wyeth-Ayerst (pending), Pfizer, and GlaxoWelicome. She is on the speakers bureau for Pfizer, AstraZeneca, TAP, Wyeth-Ayerst, Pharmacia, Eli Lilly, and Aventis. Dr. Ascione has received research grants from Amgen, Upjohn (now Pharmacia) and Glaxo-Wellcome. The other authors declare no conflicts of interests or financial interests in any product or service mentioned in this article, including grants, employment, gifts, stock holdings, or honoraria.


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