Japan changes scrips to favor generics

The tidal wave of generics has reached Japan. That country's government has proposed changes to prescription forms that would promote use of cheaper generics. Japanese copycat-drug companies saw their stocks soar on the news. Branded drug makers' shares declined.

It's hardly unexpected for Japan to push generic drug use. Worldwide, governments are steering patients toward the less-expensive alternatives in an effort to save money and stem rising healthcare costs. Japan's new prescription forms would make available generics the default option; doctors would have to specify when they don't want a generic drug substituted for the brand name product.

Right now, only 17 percent of drugs prescribed in Japan are generic. The country would like to boost that to 30 percent. Compare those figures to the 63 percent prescribed in the United States and 59 percent in Britain.

- read the report from The Guardian