Health Inc.

Generic Drugs Gain Steam, Acceptance

Most people filling a prescription these days get a generic medicine. And in a little over a year, when Pfizer's hugely popular cholesterol-fighter Lipitor goes generic, 3 in 4 U.S. prescriptions will be filled with a no-name medicine.

placebo tablet

Get used to generic pillls like these. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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How do you feel about generics? We wondered. So the folks at Thomson Reuters, who survey 100,000 U.S. households a year on health topics, agreed to ask on our behalf. In a telephone survey conducted a few weeks back, more than 3,000 people chimed in.

The bottom line: most Americans took a generic drug when they got their last prescription filled — about 70 percent overall. For younger people (those under 35) the rate for generics was 86 percent.

Do people trust generics? Pretty much. Some 85 percent of respondents said they were as safe and effective as brand-name drugs. And 90 percent said they're willing to take a generic when one is available.

Connie Perry, a pharmacist who works in Thomson Reuters' health consulting unit, says consumers' high level of confidence in generics is noteworthy — and higher than it was even a few years ago. The Food and Drug Administration makes its case for generics here.

Two-thirds of respondents cited cost as the main reason for taking a generic. That proportion was pretty consistent regardless of age and education. The highest percentage of people citing cost as the main reason for taking a generic — 75 percent — were those making between $25,000 and just under $50,000.

Thomson Reuters says the margin for error on the questions is plus or minus 1.8 percent. Click here for the full list of questions and responses.

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