Korean doctors favor original drugs after valsartan incident: survey

Lee Han-soo  Published 2018.08.27  14:38  Updated 2018.08.28 12:33


A poll conducted by Inter MD, an information platform for physicians, showed that Korean doctors now prefer original medications as distrust over generic drugs continues to grow after the valsartan incident.

The survey, participated in by 260 doctors, was aimed to grasp the actual condition and status of the medical field after the valsartan issue containing carcinogen broke out.

The opinion poll contains two longitudinal studies conducted after the first N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) detection case from China’s Zhejiang Huahai and second NDMA incident from Zhuhai Rundu Pharmaceutical.

The longitudinal survey is an investigation method that attempts to identify changes in the panel tendency by repeating the same questions several times over a specific time lag to selected panels.

According to the poll, 79 percent of respondents said there had been changes in the prescription method of valsartan medicines since the incident. In particular, 85 percent of respondents from departments that see many hypertension patients, such as endocrinology, circulatory, neurology, and nephrology, stated that they would be prescribing original medicine instead of generic drugs.

The survey also indicated that medical professionals distrusted other generic drugs as well as valsartan medications.

During the first and second longitudinal survey, the intent to change the problematic drugs to an original drug containing valsartan fell 8 percent from 53 to 45, while the intention to change valsartan drugs to non-problem generic medicines also fell 2 percent from 12 to 10 percent. The change from valsartan drugs to generic version or the original drug rose sharply from 35 to 45 percent, indicating that reliability for valsartan has fallen dramatically.

The survey also pointed out that 99 percent of respondents said they would change the selection criteria for hypertension treatment in the future. A total of 157 doctors said they would prescribe the original drug rather than generic drugs, rising from 59 to 60 percent, while 40 said they would be hesitant to prescribe valsartan drugs, increasing from 10 to 15 percent.

The prescription of original valsartan supplied by Novartis Korea has been snowballing, making it hard to place orders. Some doctors have suggested that other original medicines such as Kanarb and Micardis as a substitute treatment for valsartan.

Doctors also expressed their distrust toward Chinese manufactured medication.

When asked about the change in the overall prescription of medicines since the valsartan crisis, 80 percent of respondents said there would be a change, 46 percent said they would prescribe medication after confirming if the drug came from China, and 23 percent replied they would prescribe original drugs rather than generic drugs.

“It is very regrettable that patients became nervous as the confusion aggravated because the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety reversed the list of sales suspensions and recalls,” said a doctor who is a member of Inter MD. “For the sake of patient safety, doctors will consider prescribing only original medicines.”

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