For over 25 years the DHSS and its advisers have advocated the use of generic (approved or non-proprietary) drug names by prescribers1 and successive governments have endorsed this policy but, in the year ending February 1987, only 36% of GP scripts in England and Wales were written generically. This represents a doubling of the 1985 figures, an increase at least partly attributable to the introduction of the selected list. In this article we examine the advantages and disadvantages of generic prescribing; generic substitution is not discussed.
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