Generic Drugs Shows A Four-to-One Lead Over Branded

ucm331956POST SUMMARY: A new Harris Poll finds Americans favor generic prescription drugs over brand name products by a considerable margin. Eighty-one percent of those who buy prescription drugs say they would purchase generics more often than brand name drugs. A 42% subset goes so far as to assert that they would “always” choose to buy a generic drug. Older generations are especially likely to indicate that they would always go with generics (50% Matures, 44% Baby Boomers, and 46% Gen X vs. 33% Millennials).

Only 19% of those who purchase prescription drugs would more often choose to fill their script with the brand name drug, and a mere 6% would “always” choose brand names. It is worth noting, however, that though majorities of adults both with and without children in their households favor generics, the minority preference for brand names is stronger among those with children in the household (24% with vs. 17% without).


Though an admittedly low percentage of generic drug buyers are unwilling to pay any out-of-pocket costs, the percentage has doubled in the past six years, from 4% in 2008 to 8% now. Meanwhile, half (50%) of those who would buy generic drugs say they would be willing to pay 10 dollars or less for a 30-day supply, 28% would pay between $10.01 and $25, and 11% would be open to out-of-pocket expenses between $25.01 and $50. Only 4% would shell out over 50 dollars to get their prescription filled with a generic.


When switching from brand to a generic, patients might notice a difference, a pharmaceutical economist says, though typically the body will adjust to the generic with ease. With certain diseases, like asthma or epilepsy, “because the risk of a problem like a side effect or strength being too low is serious, you may want to talk with your doctor or pharmacist before switching to a generic.

A difference between generics and brand name drugs is the binders, fillers and dyes. These are ingredients such as Xanthan gum used to hold pills together or dye to alter their color. Some patients can have adverse reactions to certain binders and dyes, and might react when switching to a generic, Dr. Schondelmeyer says. However, he says, “maybe less than a tenth of a percent” of people have a true allergy.