Foreign reference products in the registration of generic medicines in South Africa: a case study

Hwengwere, Eldinah (2012) Foreign reference products in the registration of generic medicines in South Africa: a case study. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Introduction: Due to the increase in healthcare costs, generic medicines have been adopted for used in both developed and developing countries. When a generic or ‘multisource interchangeable medicine’ is to be registered, studies that prove that the generic is equivalent to the Innovator Product (IP) are used. The generic medicine is required to prove that it will mirror the IP in terms of safety, quality and efficacy and, in South Africa, the Medicines Control Council (MCC) ensures that generic medicines meet these requirements. Generic medicines may be registered using bioequivalence data obtained from comparison with a domestic reference product (usually the local innovator product) or in certain cases, a foreign reference product (FRP). The bioequivalence data can either be from in vivo or in vitro studies. The MCC guidelines require that for modified release preparations, in vivo bioequivalence studies are done for approval of registration; the exception being if a proportionally higher dose has already been registered. No information is currently given to prescribers and dispensers or to the public about whether a generic product was registered against a foreign or domestic reference product. Aims and Objectives: 1.) To determine the number of generic medicines in a predetermined sample registered using a FRP as comparator and to document the transparency of pharmaceutical companies when approached to disclose information regarding the registration of these products. 2.) To describe and document the use of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Act 2 of 2000) [PAIA] from the perspective of a ‘layperson’ in the context of medicines’ regulation, in both private and public bodies. Methods: 20 modified release and Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS) class IV products were selected from the ‘generics dictionary’ – a commercial publication – and letters were sent to the manufacturers of the products requesting information about the tests done to prove equivalence and whether they were performed against a domestic or foreign reference product. The same information was also requested from the MCC. The requests were all made using the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). Results: Nine companies were represented by the 20 products chosen. Information was obtained about thirteen products. Ten of these products were registered using FRPs. Four products were registered based only on comparative dissolution studies. Four companies provided the requested information, two companies responded by refusing the requests and three did not respond at all. The MCC refused the request for information even after an internal appeal was lodged. Conclusions: The Promotion of Access to information Act was unsuccessful in obtaining information from the public body, and partly successful in obtaining it from the private bodies. While the title of the Act seems to indicate that the Act can be used to obtain information as such, it only provides for access to specified records. The MCC and the pharmaceutical companies involved in the study were under no obligation to provide the information as the request had not complied with PAIA requirements. The use of FRPs for registration is a reality in the pharmaceutical industry in South Africa. Neither the public nor healthcare professionals who prescribe medicines or who are involved in dispensing generic medicines as substitutes are aware of whether or not a FRP has been used to register a generic. Interchangeability cannot necessarily be guaranteed if the reference product was not proven equivalent to the local innovator product. It is debatable as to whether or not this information would be of any particular benefit to members of the public. Prescribers may choose to write ‘no substitution’ on their prescriptions if they were unconvinced that an FRP is acceptable. This could have consequences for healthcare costs. Dispensers are the most vulnerable in South Africa as they are obliged by law to substitute generic medicines when innovator medicines have been prescribed. Dispensers’ views on the acceptability of the use of FRPs can be seen as irrelevant. In the end, as this study demonstrates, the only option in the present situation is to rely entirely on the MCC’s rigour in assessing applications for registration of generic medicines.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Generic medicines, Registration, Innovator product, Medicines Control Council, MCC, Bioequivalence data, Domestic reference product, Foreign reference product, Prescribers, Dispensers, Sample, Transparency, Pharmaceutical companies, Information, Promotion of Access to Information Act
Subjects:R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Pharmacy
Supervisors:Jobson, Roy
ID Code:3605
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:09 Oct 2012 11:07
Last Modified:09 Oct 2012 11:07
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