Survey of Patient Perceptions About Generics

Apr 1, 2010

Setting Prices for Generic Medications: A Survey of Patients’ Perceptions. Published in American Journal of Managed Care.


Objective: To estimate savings needed for patients to choose generics over equivalent brand-name medications.

Study Design: Cross-sectional mailed survey of 2500 commercially insured individuals.

Methods: Survey subjects were given hypothetical scenarios and asked about their willingness to purchase generic medications. We used descriptive statistics to examine characteristics of the respondents and to summarize our overall results, and developed linear regression models to identify independent predictors of the price savings patients would need to receive in order for them to use generic medications.

Results: The usable response rate was 48%. Few respondents would never buy a generic medication, although a greater proportion indicated that they would not buy a generic antidepressant (13.1%) than a generic cholesterol (5.7%) or back pain (5.9%) medication (P <.001). Among patients willing to use a generic only if it were less expensive than a brand-name medication, the median cost difference required each month to choose the generic was $25.50 (interquartile range $18-$50). Nonwhite patients needed to save $15.15 more than white patients in order to choose a generic.

Conclusions: Savings thresholds needed to choose a generic often are significantly more than the $13 current average copayment difference between brand and generic medications. Efforts to increase generic medication use may be aided by increasing copayments for preferred brand-name drugs or decreasing them for generics.