Generic drugs should be diligently prescribed to patients instead of medications with brand names, experts from the American College of Physicians (ACP) suggested. This should be done in order to help cut prescription drug costs and improve the adherence of patients to medication.
Dr. Amir Qaseem, co-author of the ACP recommendations, explained that generic medications are less costly and that for patients, those prescriptions are more likely to get filled.
In the United States, generic medicines account for about 88 percent of prescriptions, although the amount of these generic drugs only contribute to less than a third of the $325 million that Americans spend every year on medications.
ACP President Wayne J. Riley however said that doctors often prescribe brand name drugs that are more expensive even when generic and less expensive drugs, which are just as effective, are available.
In a report featured in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers looked into the underuse of generic medications in the U.S. to address situations where unnecessarily expensive therapies are used instead of less expensive options.
For patients with diabetes who are beneficiaries of Medicare, experts found that up to 45 percent of their prescriptions are brand name drugs. Researchers said that opting for the use of generics could save up at least $1.4 billion for Medicare.
According to the report, some physicians and patients also believe that cheaper generic drugs are inferior and are not effective. Many doctors still call prescriptions by their original brand name, even after generic versions of the drug are marketed. This can result in inadvertent prescription more costly medications.
Some patients also request for specific brand-name drugs instead of generics. Researchers said that the chances of this behavior was higher for doctors who said they receive industry-provided samples or met with representatives of the brand name drug.
Prescribing generic drugs could also help patients adhere to their medications, the authors of the study said. Brand name drug prescriptions are at least twice as likely as those for generic drugs to never be picked up again after getting filled, they explained.
With this, the researchers suggested that doctors should provide patients with free samples of generic medications, and continue to create advertising campaigns which might change public perception about the use of generic drugs.
"A large scale public awareness campaign is what's needed," added Qaseem.