Pharmacists prefer generic OTC medicines

In the US, the use of generics has been lacking due to hesitation from consumers over whether generics are as safe and effective as brand-name medications. Pharmacists, on the other hand, have the education and training to know that generics are both safe and effective.

Colleagues from the University of Arizona, College of Pharmacy carried out a cross-sectional study of pharmacists using an online questionnaire. The web-based questionnaire was sent to pharmacists to determine their preference of generic versus brand-name over-the-counter (OTC) medication for personal use as self-treatment for various health symptoms [1].

The study was conducted from December 2014 to January 2015 in a single US Southwestern state. A total of 553 licensed pharmacists were asked how likely they are to take an OTC medication if they had symptoms of aches, allergies, cough, acid reflux, insomnia, cold and flu, and pain. In addition, pharmacists were also asked their preference for 31 generic/brand-name OTC product pairs when treating those symptoms.

The pharmacists’ preference was analysed by the frequency counts in choosing either generic or brand-name OTC medication from each pair. Results showed that pharmacists preferred generic OTC medications (62%) over brand-name OTC medications (5%). Also, pharmacists were likely to take OTC medications if they were treating one of those health symptoms (mean = 7.32 ± 2.88).

These data show that pharmacists choose generic OTC medications over brand-name OTC medications with the implication that they make their decision based on their education and knowledge about these types of medications. Overall, the findings should give consumers more confidence in choosing generics.

Conflict of interest
The authors of the research paper [1] declared that there were no conflicts of interest.

Abstracted by Mira Patel, Graduate Research Associate at the University of Arizona, College of Pharmacy, Tucson, Arizona, USA.

Editor’s comment
Readers interested to learn more about the role of pharmacists when it comes to generics are invited to visit to view the following manuscript published in GaBI Journal:

Role of hospital clinical pharmacist in transplantation, and generic immunosuppressive therapies

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1. Patel M, Slack M, Cooley J, Bhattacharjee S. A cross-sectional survey of pharmacists to understand their personal preference of brand and generic over-the-counter medications used to treat common health conditions. J Pharm Policy Pract. 2016;9:17.


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