RESEARCH ARTICLE: Evaluation of knowledge and perception of students studying health related courses in Saudi universities regarding generic medicines and generic substitution: A cross-sectional study


  • Ejaz Cheema University of Birmingham
  • Mohammed Alsaedi Umm-al-Qura University, Makkah
  • Ahmea Alsobhi Umm-al-Qura University, Makkah
  • Muhammad Abdul Hadi University of Birmingham


Generic Medicines, Generic Substitution, Knowledge, Perceptions, Saudi Arabia


Objectives: To evaluate knowledge and perceptions of students studying healthcare related courses at Saudi universities about generic medicines and generic substitution in Saudi Arabia.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using a validated and pilot-tested 19-item questionnaire was conducted between January and March 2017. Senior undergraduate students studying medicine, dentistry or pharmacy were eligible for participation.

Results: Two hundred and fifty-two students completed the questionnaire. Of these 252, 138 were male and 114 were female. Overall, students had poor knowledge with no statistically significant differences across study discipline or year of study. Over half (54%) of the participants correctly responded that generic medicines are bioequivalent to the brand- name medicines. Merely, less than half (43%) correctly stated that both brand-name medicines and generic medicines should have the same dose.

Conclusion: Healthcare students had poor knowledge about generic medicines and generic substitution suggesting a need to improve content and delivery of topics related to these areas in the curricula to ensure better understanding among future practitioners about generic medicine and generic substitution.

Author Biographies

Ejaz Cheema, University of Birmingham

School of Pharmacy

Mohammed Alsaedi, Umm-al-Qura University, Makkah

College of Pharmacy

Ahmea Alsobhi, Umm-al-Qura University, Makkah

College of Pharmacy

Muhammad Abdul Hadi, University of Birmingham

School of Pharmacy


Albadr, Y., & Khan, T.M. (2015). Factors influencing community pharmacist decision to dispense generic or branded medicines; Eastern Province, Alahsa, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Pharm J, 23, 143-46

Alghasham, A.A. (2009). Generic drug prescribing in central Saudi Arabia: perceptions and attitudes of physicians. Ann Saudi Med, 29, 24-29

Alkhuzaee, F., Almalki, H., Attar, A., Althubiani, S.I., Almuallim, W.A., Cheema, E., & Hadi, M.A. (2016). Evaluating community pharmacists’ perspectives and practices concerning generic medicines substitution in Saudi Arabia: A cross-sectional study. Health Policy, 120, 1412-19. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2016.09.018

Almalki, M., Fitzgerald, G., & Clark, M. (2011). Health care system in Saudi Arabia: an overview. East Mediterr Health J, 17, 784-93

Alqurashi, M.M., El-Mouzan, M.I., Al-Herbish, A.S., Al-Salloum, A.A, & Al-Omar, A.A. (2008). The prevalence of sickle cell disease in Saudi children and adolescents: a community-based survey. Saudi Med J, 29, 1480–83

Alrasheedy, A.A., Hassali, M.A., Aljadhey, H., & Al- Tamimi, S.K. (2014). The Need to Cover Generic Medications and Generic Substitution Practice in the Curricula of Pharmacy Colleges in Saudi Arabia. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 78, 108

Alturki, Y.A. (2000). Overview of chronic diseases in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Med J, 21, 499– 500

Bawazir, S.A., Alkudsi, M.A., Al Humaidan, A.S., Al Jaser, M., & Sasich, L. (2013). Pharmaceutical policies used by private health insurance companies in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Pharma J, 21, 267-76

Birkett, D.J. (2003). Generics-equal or not? Aust Prescr,26(4), 85–87

Brand, P., Clear, P., Keen, S., Hobbs, M., Appel, S., & Coote, W. (1995). Brand

substitution. Aust Pharm, 14, 646-49

Business Monitor International (BMI). (2013). Saudi Arabia Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Report Q2. London, UK: Business Monitor International Ltd.

Chong, C.P., Hassali, M.A., Bahari, M.B., & Shafie, A.A. (2010). Evaluating community pharmacists' perceptions of future generic substitution policy implementation: a national survey from Malaysia. Health Policy, 94, 68-75

General Pharmaceutical Association. (2011). SAVINGS: an economic analysis of generic drug usage in the U.S (online). Available at: drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicine safely/genericdrugs/ucm167991.htm. Accessed 3 January, 2018

Haas, J.S., Phillips, K.A., Gerstenberger, E.P., & Seger, A.C. (2005). Potential savings from substituting generic drugs for brand-name drugs: medical expenditure panel survey, 1997-2000. Ann Intern Med, 142, 891-97

Hassali, M.A., Stewart, K., & Kong, D.C. (2008). A national survey on knowledge and perceptions of senior medical students in Australia about generic medicines. Med J Aust, 188, 123–24

Hassali, M.A., Wong, Z.Y., Alrasheedy, A.A., Saleem, F., Yahaya, A.H., & Aljadhey, H. (2014). Does educational intervention improve doctors' knowledge and perceptions of generic medicines and their generic prescribing rate? A study from Malaysia. SAGE Open Med, 2

Holmes, J.H., & Dennison, K.M. (1992). Student Pharmacists' Perceptions of Generic and Branded Drugs. Journal of Pharmaceutical Marketing & Management, 6, 71-83

Kjoenniksen, I., Lindbaek, M., & Granas, A.G. (2006). Patients' attitudes towards and experiences of generic drug substitution in Norway. Pharm World Sci, 28, 284-89

Kirking, D.M., Gaither, C.A., Ascione, F.J., & Welage, L. (2001). Pharmacists’ individual and organizational views on generic medications. J Am Pharm Assoc, 41, 723–28

Nandita, G.D., & Sudip, K.D. (2001). An Approach to Pharmaceutics Course Development as the Profession Changes in the 21st Century. Pharmacy Education, 1, 159-171

Posner, J., & Griffin, J.P. (2011). Generic substitution. BJCP, 72, 731-73

Quintiles IMS Institute. (2016). Outlook for Global Medicines through 2021: Balancing Cost and Value (online). Available at: QuintilesIMS-Institute-Global-Outlook-FINAL.pdf. Accessed 1st January, 2019

Salhia, H.O., Ali, A., & Rezk, N.L. (2015). Perception and attitude of physicians toward local generic medicines in Saudi Arabia: A questionnaire-based study. Saudi Pharm J, 23, 397-04

Suh, D.C. (1999). Trends of generic substitution in community pharmacies. Pharm World Sci, 21, 260-65

World Health Organization [WHO]. (2012). Glossary of globalization, trade and health terms (online). Available at: Accessed 21st December, 2018





Research Article