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Americans Prefer Generic Drugs: Harris Poll

Whether for prescriptions or over-the-counter (OTC) purchases, Americans are opting for generics over name-brand drugs, according to a Harris Poll conducted last August among 2,255 adults. Of those who buy prescription drugs for themselves, almost seven in 10 (69 percent) said they’d choose generics more often, when given a choice, while three in 10 (30 percent) said they’d "always" go for generics.

Just 31 percent said they’d choose a brand-name prescription more often, but Millennials were more likely than any other generation to do so (38 percent versus 30 percent of Gen Xers, 27 percent of Baby Boomers and 22 percent of Matures). Households with children also preferred name-brand prescription medications, compared with those without kids (36 percent versus 28 percent).

As for OTC drugs, when given a choice, more than six in 10 purchasers (63 percent) said they’d choose generics more often, and nearly one-quarter (24 percent) said they’d "always" take the generic option. Older generations are more likely than their younger counterparts to purchase generics (68 percent of both Matures and Baby Boomers, as opposed to 62 percent of Gen Xers and 58 percent of Millennials).

When purchasing either prescription or OTC medications for their children, parents are going for generics. For prescription purchases, more than six in 10 (61 percent) said they’d take a generic drug, compared with the 34 percent who said they preferred brand names. For OTC meds, meanwhile, a little more than half (52 percent) said they bought them for their kids and 42 percent said they preferred to purchase brand names. Notably, for both prescription and OTC purchases, those in urban areas were nearly twice as likely to buy a brand-name drug for a child, versus those in the suburbs or rural areas.

Asked how much they're actually willing to pay for their own generic prescriptions, nearly half (48 percent) said they’d shell out $10 or under for a 30-day supply, 31 percent would pay between $10.01 and $25, and 11 percent would pay between $25.01 and $50. Only 4 percent said they’d be willing to pay more than $50 for a generic prescription for themselves. This figure nearly tripled, however, when respondents were asked about purchasing medication for a child: 11 percent of those purchasing generic drugs for a youngster said they’d pay more than $50. Millennials and those with kids were all more likely to say they’d pay more than $10 out-of-pocket for generic prescription drugs.

Among the many purchase channel options for medications, 50 percent of Americans preferred chain drug stores for prescriptions, with discount stores (23 percent), supermarkets (18 percent) and online/mail order (16 percent) also proving popular. 

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