Preference Towards Generic Prescription Drugs Shows A Four-to-One Lead Over Brand Name Medications

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NEW YORK, N.Y. – March 17 , 2015 – A new Harris Poll finds Americans favor generic prescription drugs over brand name products by a considerable margin. Eighty-one percent of those who buy prescription drugs say they would purchase generics more often than brand name drugs. A 42% subset goes so far as to assert that they would always choose to buy a generic drug. Older generations are especially likely to indicate that they would always go with generics (50% Matures, 44% Baby Boomers, and 46% Gen X vs. 33% Millennials).

Meanwhile, this means that only 19% of those who purchase prescription drugs would more often choose to fill their script with the brand name drug, and a mere 6% would always choose brand names. It is worth noting, however, that though majorities of adults both with and without children in their households favor generics, the minority preference for brand names is stronger among those with children in the household (24% with vs. 17% without).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,255 U.S. adults surveyed online between November 12 and 17, 2014.

When it comes down to the money

Though an admittedly low percentage of generic drug buyers are unwilling to pay any out-of-pocket costs, the percentage has doubled in the past six years, from 4% in 2008 to 8% now. Meanwhile, half (50%) of those who would buy generic drugs say they would be willing to pay 10 dollars or less for a 30-day supply, 28% would pay between $10.01 and $25, and 11% would be open to out-of-pocket expenses between $25.01 and $50. Only 4% would shell out over 50 dollars to get their prescription filled with a generic.

Interestingly, Millennials, men, and those with children in their households are all more likely than their counterparts to say they would pay over ten dollars out-of-pocket for generic prescription drugs.

  • 52% of Millennials vs. 41% Gen Xers, 37% Baby Boomers, & 38% Matures
  • 47% of men vs. 38% of women

· 50% of adults with children in their households vs. 40% of adults with no children in their households

Where to get the goods

Nine in ten adults buy prescription drugs (89%), but no single purchase channel garners a majority of this business. However, a 32% plurality fills their prescriptions at chain drug stores. Meanwhile, nearly two in ten say they obtain prescription drugs at discount store pharmacies (17%), while over one in ten do so online or by mail order (14%) and at supermarket pharmacies (11%). Less than ten percent visit local independent pharmacies (7%) and pharmacies at hospitals or medical centers (5%).

Millennials are less likely than their elders to purchase prescription drugs at all (82% vs. 91% Gen X, 92% Baby Boomers, and 96% Matures). However, when they do need to fill a script, they and members of Gen X are most likely to do so at chain drug stores (41% Millennials and 36% Gen X vs. 24% each Baby Boomers and Matures). And in an interesting reversal, Millennials – often noted for their more intense online presence as compared to their elders – are less likely than any other generation to obtain prescription drugs online or by mail order (3% Millennials vs. 13% Gen X, 21% Baby Boomers, and 26% Matures).

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TABLE 1a

WHERE PEOPLE BUY PRESCRIPTION DRUGS NOW – TREND

Where do you go most often to buy prescription drugs for yourself or a family member? Please select one answer only.

Base: All Adults

October 2006

December 2008

November 2014

%

%

%

Purchase Prescription Drugs (NET)

93

92

89

A chain drug store (e.g., Walgreens, CVS, Eckerd)

39

33

32

The pharmacy at a discount store (e.g., Wal-Mart, Target, Sam’s Club)

13

17

17

Online or by mail order

11

15

14

The pharmacy at a supermarket (e.g., Safeway, Shop Rite or Kroger)

10

12

11

A local independent pharmacy

12

8

7

The pharmacy at a hospital or medical center

5

5

5

Somewhere else

3

3

2

Never purchase prescription drugs

7

8

11

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 1b

WHERE PEOPLE BUY PRESCRIPTION DRUGS NOW

By Generation and Children in Household

Where do you go most often to buy prescription drugs for yourself or a family member? Please select one answer only.

Base: All Adults

Total

Generation

Children in Household

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Purchase Prescription Drugs (NET)

89

82

91

92

96

91

88

A chain drug store (e.g., Walgreens, CVS, Eckerd)

32

41

36

24

24

40

29

The pharmacy at a discount store (e.g., Wal-Mart, Target, Sam’s Club)

17

17

17

18

14

20

15

Online or by mail order

14

3

13

21

26

8

17

The pharmacy at a supermarket (e.g., Safeway, Shop Rite or Kroger)

11

11

11

11

12

12

11

A local independent pharmacy

7

4

7

9

10

7

7

The pharmacy at a hospital or medical center

5

3

5

6

6

3

5

Somewhere else

2

3

1

2

3

1

3

Never purchase prescription drugs

11

18

9

8

4

9

12

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 2a

PREFERENCE FOR GENERIC OR BRAND NAME DRUGS -TREND

If you had a choice between getting a brand name prescription drug or a generic drug, how often would you choose one over the other?

Base: Those Who Purchase Prescription Drugs

October 2006

December 2008

November 2014

%

%

%

Would choose generic more often (NET)

68

81

81

I would always choose to buy generic drugs over brand name

23

40

42

I would much more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

28

28

25

I would somewhat more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

17

12

15

Would choose brand name more often (NET)

32

19

19

I would somewhat more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

14

10

9

I would much more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

10

5

4

I would always choose to buy brand name prescription drugs over generic

9

4

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 2b

PREFERENCE FOR GENERIC OR BRAND NAME DRUGS

By Generation and Children in Household

If you had a choice between getting a brand name prescription drug or a generic drug, how often would you choose one over the other?

Base: Those Who Purchase Prescription Drugs

Total

Generation

Children in Household

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Would choose generic more often (NET)

81

79

80

83

84

76

83

I would always choose to buy generic drugs over brand name

42

33

46

44

50

40

43

I would much more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

25

29

22

25

20

21

26

I would somewhat more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

15

17

13

15

14

15

15

Would choose brand name more often (NET)

19

21

20

17

16

24

17

I would somewhat more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

9

10

6

8

10

11

8

I would much more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

4

3

5

5

2

5

4

I would always choose to buy brand name prescription drugs over generic

6

8

8

4

3

8

5

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.


 

TABLE 3a

HIGHEST ACCEPTABLE PRICE FOR 30 DAY SUPPLY OF GENERIC DRUGS -TREND

What is the most you would be willing to pay out-of-pocket for a 30-day supply of generic prescription drugs?

Base: Would Buy Generic Prescription Drugs

October 2006

December 2008

November 2014

%

%

%

Nothing

5

4

8

$10.00 or less

40

49

50

$10.01 OR MORE (NET)

56

47

43

$10.01 – $25.00

36

33

28

$25.01 – $50.00

15

11

11

More than $50.00

5

4

4

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 3b

HIGHEST ACCEPTABLE PRICE FOR 30 DAY SUPPLY OF GENERIC DRUGS

By Generation, Gender, and Children in Household

What is the most you would be willing to pay out-of-pocket for a 30-day supply of generic prescription drugs?

Base: Would Buy Generic Prescription Drugs

Total

Generation

Gender

Children in Household

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Nothing

8

8

9

7

8

8

7

6

9

$10.00 or less

50

40

50

56

54

44

54

44

52

$10.01 OR MORE (NET)

43

52

41

37

38

47

38

50

40

$10.01 – $25.00

28

32

23

28

28

31

26

30

27

$25.01 – $50.00

11

15

13

6

7

12

9

16

8

More than $50.00

4

5

5

3

3

5

3

4

4

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between November 12 and 17, 2014 among 2,255 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #17, March 17, 2015

By Hannah Pollack, Harris Poll Research Analyst