Poll: More Americans endanger health amid tough economy

More than 40% say doctors 'only sometimes or never' recommend generics

YONKERS, N.Y. — A growing number of Americans are putting their health at risk in order to save money, according to a new study.

Consumer Reports' annual prescription drug poll found that 48% of respondents currently taking a prescription drug said they'd cut healthcare costs by putting off a doctor's visit or medical procedure, declining tests or ordering drugs from outside the United States — a 9% increase over 2010.

Twenty-eight percent have resorted to actions that are potentially dangerous, such as not filling prescriptions, taking expired medications or skipping a scheduled dosage.

At the same time, 41% of respondents said their doctors only sometimes or never recommended generic drugs, despite the ability of generics to save money.

"Doctors need to be stewards of their patients' resource concerns," Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center director John Santa said. "When you walk into your doctor's office you are a patient, first and foremost, but you are also a consumer, and your doctor should be tuned to this, especially during these tough times."

Forty-three percent of respondents said information about whether their doctors accept money or gifts from drug companies was "very valuable," a 9% increase over 2010. Meanwhile, 88% of respondents who take a prescription drug harbored misgivings about the drug industry's influence on their doctors' prescribing habits, while 72% said drug companies had too much influence. Fifty-two percent said doctors were too eager to prescribe a drug instead of considering alternate methods of managing conditions, while 49% said the drugs their doctors prescribed were influenced by gifts from drug companies.

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