Korean patients lack awareness about drugs they are taking

By Sohn Ji-young
  • Published : Aug 28, 2018 - 16:25
  • Updated : Aug 28, 2018 - 16:57

Three out of 4 patients in South Korea were unaware of whether the medication they were taking was an original or generic drug, suggesting generally weak public understanding of drugs and their properties, according to survey results released by Bayer Korea on Tuesday.

According to a survey of 1,000 Koreans aged between 40 and 60 on how knowledgeable they are about medication they regularly take, 71.5 percent did not know if the drug they were taking was an original or generic.

Another 75.7 percent responded that they did not know about the difference between an original and generic drug at all, according to the Bayer survey.


An original drug refers to the first of its kind to be developed and launched in the market. When the patent for the original drug expires, other pharma firms are permitted to launch generic drugs that are chemically-equivalent to the original drug, typically at cheaper prices.

In addition, 51.3 percent of those surveyed said they had at least one mediation that they were taking regularly. But among this group, just 48.1 percent knew the name of the drug they were taking, while 46.8 percent did not know the company that had manufactured the drug.

Patients were more knowledgeable about their medication’s efficacy, with 65.3 percent responding that they were aware of the therapeutic effects of the drugs they were taking. However, only 23.2 percent said they knew about the possible side effects and risks associated with the drug.

As for factors considered when selecting a drug, 54 percent of the respondents cited “recommendation by a doctor or a pharmacist,” while 27.3 percent cited “efficacy” and 11.6 percent said “safety.”

Bayer Korea said that the survey shows that many patients lack a comprehensive understanding of their long-term medication, and that efforts are needed to better inform patients of the drugs they are taking, including diverse pricing options, to help them make the best purchase choices.

By Sohn Ji-young (