Watsons wants to educate consumers about choosing right generic drugs
- Patricia Esteves (The Philippine Star) - July 16, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Jocelyn Pangilinan decided to switch to generic drugs since last year to save money since branded medicines nowadays can cost an arm and a leg. After all, she knows that generic medicines work just as well. But when she found out that her symptoms were returning she became very concerned.

She does not doubt the efficacy of generic drugs but what could be wrong?

Roberto Sun, general manager of Watsons Health and Beauty store, said there are a slew of factors why generic drugs don’t work. They could have been manufactured by a phony drug company and sold by scheming drug stores to make money.

In gauging if you are buying the right generic medicines, Sun said there are three simple criteria to follow.

“First, it should be manufactured by a trusted pharmaceutical company, second it should be FDA-approved and third, it should be sold by a reputable pharmacy retailer,” Sun told The Star in an interview.

He said consumers must be educated when buying generic medicines and it is the pharmacy’s responsibility to sell generic drugs that are efficient and passed the strictest standards.

“You offer people choices but you have to make sure you give them the right choice, the one that will make them feel healthy and really make them well,” he said.

In a bid to educate consumers about choosing the right generic drugs, Watsons is launching a massive campaign called the Buy Generics and Save advocacy that will ensure consumers are educated to know the difference between trusted and questionable generics.

Unknown to many, Watsons has been offering not only branded but a whole line of generic drugs since 2006.

“Watsons have been carrying generic medicines for the last five or six years. We have been carrying generics as an alternative. We know that Filipinos are 94 million and a lot of people actually want to get healthy but the biggest stumbling block is of course, the price of healthcare. We make sure that we have available products that are not only effective but affordable as well,” he said.

“We want to make sure that most of our consumers can have a choice, whether they want to buy branded or generics, they can come to Watsons and buy both,” he said.

Sun said their generic drugs have been approved by BFAD and source these medicines only from reputable manufacturers like Unilab, Ritemed, Pascual, Novartis and Pharex, among others.

Generic medicines are good

Sun said he’d often hear people say it’s better to be penniless than to get sick because of the high cost of medicines in the country. 

“It is a sad reality that health management here is expensive and because  people find it expensive to buy medicine, most resort to self-medication, non-compliance to treatment and medical consultation only when symptoms of ailments are already unbearable,” said Sun.

 “It’s a good thing that people now have choices between buying branded and generics medicines. More and more Filipinos are accepting generics as an alternative and that in itself is a good phenomenon and we hope that continues to be propagated and patronized by a lot of Filipinos because generic drugs are really for the Filipino,” he added. 

Sun said the sale of their generic medicines have grown by more than 80 percent last year, which means more people are relying on generics.

Aside from the Watsons Buy Generics and Save advocacy campaign, Watsons will also have a new section that will also carry the Compliance Packs (for chronic and acute diseases),Watsons Health Packs (for common ailments like headache, stomach ache, allergy) and a wide range of generic products from only from trusted manufacturers.

Sun said people with chronic illnesses like hypertension,diabetes and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels) will no longer hesitate to complete the cycle of their medication because of the affordable Compliance packs.

At Watsons,  Sun said they can also approach the highly-trained pharmacists and ask the right medicines for their illnesses. Likewise, blood pressure monitoring is free everyday. You can also schedule for free a blood sugar testing.

Watsons is the largest health and beauty retail chain in Asia operating in 2,500 stores across 37 countries – Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Macau, Singapore and Malaysia, Philippines, Korea and Indonesia .

In 2002, A.S.Watson Group joined hands with SM Prime Holdings Inc. to open the first Watsons stores in  SM Megamall and the Podium. Today, Watsons operates 275 stores in the Philippines , of which 231 are pharmacies.

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