For Rxs and OTCs, Americans favor generics

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Harris Poll also finds generational gap in generic vs. brand


NEW YORK — When given a choice in purchasing a prescription or over-the-counter drug, most U.S. consumers will opt for a generic product, a new Harris Poll finds.

Harris said Wednesday that of the 2,255 U.S. adults it surveyed, 69% said they would pick the generic drug more often, and 30% indicated that they would always choose a generic. Thirty-one percent reported that they would select a brand-name script more often.

It’s a similar scenario when consumers have a choice with OTC medicines. According to the Harris Poll survey, 63% of consumers would choose the generic more often, while 24% said they would always go for the generic option.

For both prescription and nonprescription products, Harris’ study revealed a bit of a generational gap. The researcher found that 38% of Millennials were more likely to choose a branded prescription drug, compared with 30% for Gen Xers, 27% for Baby Boomers and 22% for Matures. Those with children also tend to prefer name-brands compared with households without kids (36% versus 28%).

With OTCs, older generations are more likely to go the generic route. Sixty-eight percent of Matures and Baby Boomers favor generics, compared with 62% of Gen Xers and 58% of Millennials).

Generics have a bit less pull in households with children, Harris Poll noted. For prescription purchases, 61% of parents said they fill the scripts with a generic, whereas 34% stick with the branded medications.

Yet the disparity between generics and brands lessens when buying OTC medicines for kids. Just more than half (52%) of parents indicated that they purchase generic OTCs for their children, while 42% opt for the brand-name option.

duane reade Rx customersHarris’ research also found geographical differences in preference. For both prescription and OTC purchases, those in urban settings are nearly twice as likely to pick up a brand-name drug for a child, compared with those in suburban or rural settings.

Overall, 93% of U.S. adults said they buy prescription medications, and 96% said they purchase OTC drugs.

Of those polled, 50% reported that they get their prescriptions at chain drug stores, compared with 23% at discount stores, 18% at supermarkets, 16% via mail order/online, 12% at local pharmacies, and 9% at a hospital or medical center pharmacy.

One surprising finding: Older generations are more likely to use online channels to purchase prescription drugs, with 27% of Matures and 24% of Baby Boomers doing so, compared with 10% of Gen Xers and 7% of Millennials.

Those with children in the household are more likely than those without to buy scripts from chain drug stores (58% versus 46%), discount stores (30% versus 20%), and local pharmacies (17% versus 10%). Conversely, those without kids have a greater tendency to purchase prescriptions online (19% versus 10%).

Discount stores are the top destination for nonprescription drug purchases, with 57% of Americans going to these outlets them for OTC medicines, followed by 51% for chain drug stores, 32% for supermarkets, 10% for local pharmacies, 5% for online/mail order, and 3% for hospital or medical center pharmacies.

Millennials are more likely to buy OTC medications at chain drug stores (61%) than all other generations (50% of Gen Xers, 45% of Baby Boomers and 46% of Matures), Harris found.

The study also gauged respondents’ willingness to pay for generic prescriptions for themselves. Almost half of purchasers (48%) said they would pay $10 or less for a 30-day supply, while 31% would pay between $10.01 and $25. Just 11% reported that they would pay $25.01 to $50, and only 4% would be willing to pay over $50 for a generic prescription for themselves. That percentage, though, nearly triples when purchasing a script for a child. Eleven percent of those buying generic drugs for a kid said they would pay over $50.

Millennials were more likely to be willing to pay more than $10 out-of-pocket for generic prescriptions (56% versus 51% of Gen Xers, 37% of Baby Boomers and 40% of Matures), according to Harris. The same goes for households with children (54% compared with 42% of adults without kids).


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