Prescribe drugs with a generic name? There are opposing opinions

A campaign, called “Health at a lower price” seeks that doctors prescribe drugs with the generic name and not only with the name of a specific pharmaceutical company, this with the aim that access to health becomes “less onerous “for Costa Rican citizens.

This approach was presented this Tuesday by Álvaro Salas, former president of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, Albin Chaves, former director of pharmacoepidemiology of the CCSS, Édgar Gutiérrez, former Minister of Environment and Energy, and Elliot Coen, businessman and marketer.

The idea is that the patient can go to a pharmacy and present his prescription with the generic name of the medicine. Next, the pharmacist would proceed to offer all the available brands with their different prices, so that the person can choose the one that best suits their budget.

Chaves explained that the generic name of the drugs refers to the active principle, which is what is really going to act on the patient’s pathology.

He indicated that it is the name that is disseminated in the scientific and academic circles, as well as the name recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to promote the rational use of drugs.

Other posture

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Costa Rica also issued a statement, this Tuesday, to express its disagreement that doctors have to prescribe only with the generic name.

“Medical professionals, in order to safeguard a fundamental good such as the patient’s right to health, which is superimposed on the determination to prescribe drugs for their active principle, should not have any limitation, apart from their professional knowledge , by recording the name of the prescribed drug in the way they deem appropriate, and for the health of the patient, “said Dr. Mauricio Guardia, president of the College of Physicians.

In fact, the Regulation for the Prescription and Dispensing of Medications in accordance with their International Common Denomination (DCI) for the Costa Rican private market, would indicate the obligation to prescribe medications by active principle, a fact that violates the right of the Medical Association. professional to free prescription.

However, Chaves explained that there is no difference in safety or effectiveness between a drug with the same active ingredient as another, based on the pharmaceutical company that produces it, since all had to go through reviews of the Pharmacopoeia.

“The prescription by generic name in no way limits the prescription rights of professionals, the doctor returns to his principles, to what he learned in college,” said Chaves.

For the patient to have greater possibilities of choosing the drug that fits his budget, this can generate competition, which will ultimately affect market prices, he added.

For his part, Salas emphasized that since entering medical school, doctors are taught to prescribe with the name of the molecule that heals, that is, by the generic name.

He commented that just by starting to prescribe with the generic name, steps could be taken in the right direction to lower the price of drugs.

“I find it insulting to have to pay for medicines up to 35% more than in neighboring countries,” said the doctor and former head of the CCSS.

He called on all federations and patient organizations, as well as all Costa Ricans, to unite to achieve the goal of reducing the price of medicines.

Elliot Coen commented that Costa Rica has the highest prices in all of Central America and lowering costs will reduce this burden, especially for the most vulnerable people.

“They are forcing us to buy a Rolls Royce when what we need is a bus ticket to get around,” he said.

This initiative is also supported by figures such as Gloria Bejarano, former first lady of the Republic and former MP, Guillermo Zúñiga, economist, former minister and former MP, Nora Chaves, former president of the College of Dentists, and Eugenio Herrero, political scientist.


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