U.S. consumers more likely to prefer generics

The United States is leading in its preference for generic drugs. According to a new report by Rhinebeck, N.Y.-based Phoenix Marketing International, 37% of American consumers expressed a preference for generic drugs when they were available, compared with 22% of the French, 21% of Canadians and 12% of Britons. The study was based on 810 consumers in the four countries.

While Americans were slightly more likely to say the quality of generics was lower than branded drugs — 14%, versus 11% in Canada and the United Kingdom — the French were far more likely to say so, with 29% saying branded drugs were of higher quality. Interestingly, despite concerns about quality, generic use in France was the highest among countries in the study — 73% of French respondents said they had taken a generic drug in the last two years versus 70% of Americans, 54% of Canadians and 36% of Britons.

However, some disparities exist in the use of generics in the United States, particularly among Medicare beneficiaries. According to a recent study by researchers at Dartmouth College, 26.3% of prescriptions in the United States were filled as branded drugs in 2010; in Manhattan, 36% of patients used generics, but the figure was only 16.5% for those in La Crosse, Wis.

Such figures are significant considering that according to a Generic Pharmaceutical Association study conducted by IMS Health, use of generic drugs saved the U.S. healthcare system $1 trillion between 2002 and 2011. About 83% of prescriptions filled in the United States are generic, according to IMS.

Eighty-three percent is also the rate at which patients accept independent pharmacists’ recommendations for generic drug use, according to figures published in the National Community Pharmacists Association’s 2013 NCPA Digest. Independents dispense generics 77% of the time, NCPA said.

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