Equivalents and galenic drugs. They are not the solution to the current shortage of some medicines, but they can be of great help in bridging this shortage. Especially the one concerning the drugs used against the flu, Covid and other typical infections of this season. Because, even if the problems of finding active ingredients and raw materials also concern galenic equivalents and preparations, in Italy they are used so scarcely that increasing their use could ultimately prove decisive in overcoming this very delicate phase. Federfarma has reiterated this several times, specifying that, despite the shortage of some drugs reported by the Italian Medicines Agency, “at the moment there is always an alternative for citizens who cannot find the drug they need”, underlines the national secretary Roberto Tobia.
Is there no tachypirine? We have several generic alternatives for paracetamol available. Missing Nurofen for children? Equipped pharmacies can safely proceed with ibuprofen galenic preparations that are as effective and safe as their branded equivalent. “It’s a matter of culture on equivalents,” says Michele Uda, general manager of Egualia. This despite the fact that the generic is a drug that has the same active ingredient, the same quantity and identical mode of release within our body as the original drug. In other words, despite being an exact copy of the drug from which it originates. “Even if the purchases of generic drugs are growing, there is a large portion of the population that is still tied to the branded drug and that does not really consider the possibility of buying a product of equal efficacy and lower cost”, adds Uda . Furthermore, the use of equivalent treatments is not homogeneous throughout Italy: it continues to be privileged in the North, compared to the Center and the South. According to a SWG research conducted for Egualia, only 4 out of 10 Italians opt for the generic and more than 30 % of the population never buys it. Not even if there is a shortage of branded ones. This is how the hoarding race begins, determining what Federfarma has renamed the “stock effect”: the purchases of drugs that are not needed for fear of not having any if they become necessary in the future.
The poor culture of citizens is only one of the causes. Even more impactful is the skepticism of doctors. According to the fifth Cittadinanzattiva Pharmacy Report, among the reasons that citizens give for not buying the equivalent, over 56% declare that until the doctor decides, he does not assume the responsibility for making this choice. Furthermore, almost 18% of doctors, both family doctors and specialists, have never mentioned generics to their patient.
In terms of galenic preparations, drugs assembled directly in pharmacies on the basis of a community pharmacopoeia, the main obstacle at the moment is not so much the poor “culture” of citizens, but the lack of active ingredients which also affects these products and the difficulty many pharmacies to equip themselves to produce these drugs. In our country there are only 2,000 pharmacies capable of making “advanced” galenic products, such as ibuprofen for children, for example. Almost all of them can make basic preparations.
Meanwhile, the association of municipal pharmacies has written a letter to Minister Schillaci, asking him to intervene: “There is an increasing lack of drugs distributed by pharmacies: the municipal pharmacies believe this situation is no longer sustainable”. Among other things, they denounce the phenomenon of exports «to countries where the price of some medicines is higher than that of sale in our country. The municipal pharmacies do not practice these operations and consider it unfair, especially for the population, to suffer any consequences ».