[Opinions and attitudes of Flemish pharmacists and general practitioners towards INN prescribing. A survery in Antwerp and East Flanders]

J Fraeyman, J De Winter, H De Loof, G Van Hal, P Beutels, R Remmen, G R Y De Meyer
Journal de Pharmacie de Belgique 2013, (2): 18-31

INTRODUCTION: Since 2002 in Belgium, physicians are allowed to prescribe by International Non-proprietary Name (INN). In 2005, the conditions for this decree were set. Examples from other countries have shown that INN prescribing can significantly contribute to controlling pharmaceutical expenditures. The share of INN prescriptions remains low in Belgium (7% in 2011).

OBJECTIVE: To formulate an answer to the question: what are the opinions and attitudes of pharmacists and general practitioners [GP's] with regards to INN prescribing?

METHOD: In the winter of 2011-2012, a questionnaire with closed-ended questions was send to pharmacists and GP's in the provinces of Antwerp and East-Flanders, through training days and personal visits. Pharmacists and GP's scored a list of statements with a 5-point Likert scale. The themes of the statements related to: delivering INN prescriptions, legislation, impact on expenditures, choices regarding patient concerns and interprofessional relations.

RESULTS: In total, 353 questionnaires were completed and returned of which 228 165%1 were by pharmacists and 125 (35%1 by GP's. Although both declared to be sufficiently up to date with regulations to prescribe (84%) or to deliver (95%] a INN prescription, only 13% of the pharmacists said all prescription they receive contain the correct information. Less GP's [36%) than pharmacists (82%] feel aided by their software program when prescribing or delivering an INN prescription. GP's rely mostly on NIHDI (National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance) as the main source for information on INN prescribing, pharmacists rely on the [Local) pharmacists association. The pharmacists and GP's in the study who relied on NIHDI as main information source, were less aware of legislation concerning INN [N2, p<0,05] than those who rely on the local professional association [N2, p<0,0001]. All pharmacists in the study said to consider the patients medication history when delivering an INN prescription for chronic treatment. However, 57% of the GP's preferred not to prescribe by INN for the reason that they are not sure whether the pharmacist will always consider the patients medication history in case of an INN prescription. Although the GP's showed certain motivation to prescribe by INN, it was no greater than for generic prescribing. And INN prescribing has no added value compared to generic prescribing, according to the GP's. For the pharmacists, INN prescribing does contain an opportunity. With the increase in numbers of dosages and sorts of packaging of generic products, it becomes more and more difficult for pharmacists to manage their stock. In case of an INN prescription, the pharmacist can choose between the different packages in his stock. This offers opportunities especially for acute conditions.

CONCLUSION: INN prescribing is a good example of where the collaboration between pharmacists and GP's still contains a lot of opportunities, as well for the two professions, as the government and the patient in terms of controlling the pharmaceutical expenditures. Also the education for pharmacist or GP can further contribute to the sensitization of INN prescribing. In practice, there remain a number of issues and differences in opinions between pharmacists and general practitioners regarding INN prescribing. GP's feel few motivation to prescribe by INN and the government has put no imperative demands towards prescribers. Further evaluation of the practicaL feasibility of the current conditions for prescribing and delivering INN prescriptions is needed.

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