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Physicians' Attitudes And Practices Regarding Generic Drugs

   Since the late 1970's the substitution of generic drugs for brand name drugs has become a relatively common physician practice. This study investigates…

  • current physicians' opinions about substituting generic medications for brand name drugs and their patterns of prescribing generics
  • their sources of information and perceived level of knowledge about generics
  • various types of potential pressures physicians may feel and the effect of such pressures on their decision-making

Physicians in this study support the use of generic substitutes for brand name drugs when they are available and appropriate for the patient, and consider themselves knowledgeable about generic bioequivalence.

  • Primary care physicians are more likely than medical specialists to say they support generic substitution for brand name drugs.

  • Primary care physicians are twice as likely as medical specialists to say they know a lot about price differences between brand name drugs and generic substitutes; they are also more likely to say their patients want them to prescribe generic drugs and that, because the price difference is often so great, they feel they must do so.

  • Physicians cite health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers as a frequent source of information about generics, but say that brand name drug representatives visit weekly and give free samples while generic drug representatives don't.

Of the 425 physicians responding to this online survey, 51 percent were primary care practitioners with the balance representing a variety of medical specialties. Harris Interactive, Inc. conducted the survey for AARP between December 21, 2004 and January 3, 2005. The report was prepared by Linda L. Barrett, Ph.D. of AARP Knowledge Management who may be contacted at 202-434-6197 for additional information. (32 pages) 

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