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Executive Summary

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is publicly defending generic drugs in an advertisement that notes that no case has been documented of a therapeutic failure of a generic drug. In an announcement purchased in the Oct. 9 issue of a chain pharmacy industry publication, Chain Drug Review, NACDS acknowledged that the investigation into "the practices of some generic drug manufacturers has shaken the public's confidence" in their products. Nonetheless, the association declared: "At this time it is important to remember that generic drugs have served the public's needs for more than 30 years without documented therapeutic failure." NACDS is one of several professional health organizations that have taken a public stance in defense of the generic drug industry as a whole. The association called for "firm action" to correct any aberrant problems and "restore public confidence in generic drugs." Despite the current investigations, NACDS said, "generic drugs are an integral part of America's health care delivery system. Consumers and insurers look to generics in order to assure the affordability of prescription drugs." Therefore, the ad continues, "NACDS and its chain drug store members urge Congress, the Administration, and the pharmaceutical industry to resolve questions regarding generic drugs as quickly as possible. We support firm action to correct existing problems and restore public confidence in generic drugs in particular and prescription drugs in general." NACDS said its pharmacists "are on the frontlines" as "the most knowledgeable, best trained, and most accessible health professional regarding prescription drugs and can assist in decisions regarding generic drugs and their use." The ad carries the headline, "A message to prescribers, providers and users of prescription drugs from the chain drug store industry." The American Society of Hospital Pharmacists adopted a similar position in a letter to 1,600 newspaper editors nationwide. In a Sept. 18 letter, ASHP Exec VP Joseph Oddis maintained that "generic drug products have been used in hospital settings safely and effectively for decades." Nonetheless, Oddis urged that patients "become active participants in their own health care." No system of controls "can substitute for meaningful interaction between patients, pharmacists, and physicians." ASHP's letter echoes a Sept. 6 letter to the American Academy of Family Physicians in which the society urged the physician group not to embrace an antigeneric drug resolution not based on "objective scientific data." Oddis wrote that he hoped AAFP "will not be influenced by parties with a proprietary interest in the generic drug use debate" ("The Pink Sheet" Sept. 18, T&G-4). Notwithstanding ASHP's plea, AAFP at its annual meeting last month adopted a policy opposing "blanket" generic substitution. AAFP said prescribers should be consulted before generics are substituted for brandname drugs prescribed for certain "critical" conditions or patients. The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association has kept a low profile with regard to the generic drug crisis. The American Medical Association is standing by its generic drug policy established in 1975. An AMA spokesman said the association believes that its policy, which urges members to remain informed about the quality of generic drug products, applies to the current investigations.

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