There is currently a major push in Japan to increase the use of generics. The government and other healthcare providers are implementing procedures and regulations to drive generic use. For example, advertisements to increase awareness and establish the safety of generics ran in 2004, and from April 2006 a pharmacist can supply a generic equivalent, provided that the doctor has stipulated that a generic is.
It is expected that, as these and additional measures are implemented, more generics companies will establish or bolster their Japanese presence to take advantage of the growth opportunities there. Indeed, a Japanese generics company, Towa Pharmaceutical Company, has increased its sales force in Japan, and Sandoz also plans to follow suit.
Countries such as India and China are likely to increase their use of generics as demand for better and more expensive medicines increases with the rise in the standard of general healthcare provision.
Key factors include the changing patent laws as countries aim to become more TRIPS compliant, with India updating its law recently and China in the process of doing so through the WTO. Increasing globalization of the generics market, with Indian companies becoming involved in Europe and the US and vice versa, will also provide an opportunity for generics companies.
A key challenge in the use of generics in Asia is counterfeit medicines and the fear that a generic may in fact be a counterfeit and not as effective as the original branded product. In countries such as Japan, where branding is very important, increasing the positive perception of generics is key to ensuring greater use.