Generic vs. branded medications: which do patients prefer and why?
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Generic vs. branded medications: which do patients prefer and why?

The newly-implemented Active Ingredient Prescribing Regulations mean that prescribers must now include the active ingredients on most PBS and RPBS prescriptions. While a prescriber can still specify a medicine’s brand name as well, the changes will likely mean that this will become less common.

The new regulations are part of a push towards increasing the uptake of generic and biosimilar medicines to help make the healthcare system more financially viable. It also aims to ensure that prescribers and patients are more aware of active ingredients in medications in order to reduce medication-related harm.

While there is industry-wide support for the changes and their overall objectives, the potential impact on patients is unclear. How loyal are patients to certain brands? Will patients feel confused or anxious about changing to a generic medication?

To learn more about consumer attitudes to medications, we surveyed 1,400 people to find out what they know about generic vs. branded medications, which one they prefer and why. Read on for a summary of the key findings, or download the full report.

Generic vs. branded medications survey: key findings

  • It’s common practice for a pharmacy to offer consumers the choice between a branded medication and the generic version. 95% of survey respondents have been offered a generic version of a medication by a Pharmacist, with only 5% reporting they hadn’t.
  • Price consciousness and effectiveness are the two main reasons for determining preference for generic vs. branded medications, at 39% and 33% respectively. Other reasons affecting consumer preferences include recommendations from Pharmacists, the perceived quality of the medication and previous experience.
  • The Active Ingredient Prescribing changes mean that brand names will be left off prescriptions, unless the prescriber specifies that the brand name should be included. Consumers generally feel indifferent or negative about this change, with 40% neutral and 35% negative.
  • Many consumers believe generic medications are not as good as the branded versions. Their concerns range from anxiety over quality and effectiveness, the perception that generic medications contain additional ingredients that may cause an adverse reaction, and hesitation about switching from familiar brand names. Some survey respondents commented that changes to medication may cause confusion, particularly in older patients.


Download the full report.

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