17 August 2020

Prescribing software update switches all brand names to generics

Clinical Pharmaceuticals

Prescriptions will soon name drug’s active ingredients by default, rather than brand names, in a move aimed at reducing medication errors and saving the health system money.

The legislation was introduced one year ago, with software providers given 12 months to make the transition. However, a chaotic year of bushfires, pandemic and the introduction of eScripts has prompted an extension to the deadline.

Instead of a November 1 changeover, the Department of Health suggested the deadline would be 2021.

Doctors don’t have to worry about googling the name of the active ingredient for every script, said John Green, medications specialist at the Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA).

“Doctors do not need to know that sertraline is the active ingredient for Zoloft,” he said. “They can still type in Zoloft, and the computer will put the active ingredient name automatically without the prescriber doing anything.”

GPs will still have the option of listing a brand name drug and ticking the “no substitutions” box on the prescription if they have reason to.

This may be as simple as knowing that the patient is familiar with taking a purple pill, and she may be confused by switching to a grey pill, said Mr Green.

Nevertheless, even in this instance the active ingredient will be listed first, followed by the brand name.

The initiative was welcomed by professional groups as a method of reducing the sometimes-complicated set of names that patients have to remember and lessening the disturbance of drug shortages.

It is also designed to reduce healthcare costs.

As of 2010, only one in five prescriptions issued by a GP listed the generic term for a drug, so there could be substantial savings from switching the default prescribing mode to generics.

The Department of Health is expected to issue educational material to the medical profession in the coming weeks.

“The Department will be publishing a webpage with additional information concerning active ingredient prescribing and commencing communication activities with prescribers, pharmacists and consumers over the coming weeks,” a spokeswoman said.

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Kylie Fardell
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Kylie Fardell
4 months 29 days ago

Absolutely terrific news. This should save a lot of time in explanations to patients on the difference between generic names and the ever increasing brand names for each product, and will also improve overall safety by reducing the risk of inadvertent double ups in medication taking.

Kevin McEntee
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Kevin McEntee
5 months 21 hours ago
When was the last time a GENERIC pharmaceutical company developed a life changing class of drugs – the answer is Never. Who is going to develop new wonder medications : think – Statins, ACE inhibitors, PPI’s, NOACS etc, if the researchers stop creating new therapeutic drug classes. Our patients need to know that their pharmacists are happy to change the colour, shape,etc of their medications depending on what the cheapest generic version is that month from the factory ( with them reaping the profits from we taxpayers & also “INCENTIVES ” from the generic producers ) & them pocketing the… Read more »
Andrew Taylor
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Andrew Taylor
5 months 1 day ago

the only issue we have is that the generics are all the same except when they never are are they? eg warfarin. Bite the bullet PBS and have a NZ model single supplier of each class of drug. That seriously saves money and avoids confusion.

Dr Muhammad Umer
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Dr Muhammad Umer
5 months 1 day ago

As it should HAVE BEEN a long time ago.
Almost all scripts I ever do are generic.
Not only that, I cut off tabs from medicine boxes and highlight the active ingredients in orange for patients to see what the real drug is.

Matt Long
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Matt Long
4 months 30 days ago

What? For every patient? Do they have to go to the pharmacy and then come back to you with their box of pills?

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