【Aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan】No.54: Regional Disparity in the Use of Generic Drugs

In this column series, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Research Director at CIGS introduces the latest information about aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan with data of international comparison.

Increasing the proportion of generic drugs in prescription medicine in order to limit the growth in medical expenses has become a major policy issue. Figure 1 shows that the ratio of generic drugs to total prescription drugs on a quantity basis is rising.

<Definition of the quantity base ratio>
 「Quantity of generic drugs」÷「Number of original drugs with generic drugs+Quantity of generic drugs」

The problem is that there are significant disparities in this ratio among the 47 prefectures, ranging from 60.3% in the Tokushima Prefecture to 80.0% in the Okinawa Prefecture. The government aims to bring it up to 80% nationwide by 2020. In 2015, the proportion of generic drugs accounted for 14.2% of the total prescription medicine amount (7,983 billion yen). This share increased to 16.7% in the period between April 2017 and September 2017.

Figure 1 Proportion of generic drugs as a share of prescription drugs (on a quantity basis)


(Source)Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare

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