Physicians could benefit from generics education, study shows

September 1, 2006

Orlando, Fla.- Physicians, pharmacists and consumers all have concerns over the safety of newer prescription drugs, and a sizable proportion believe that medications on the market 10 years or more, such as generics, are safer than newer drugs, according to findings from the Medco Monitor, a national commissioned survey conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Medco.

ORLANDO, FLA.- Physicians, pharmacists and consumers all have concerns over the safety of newer prescription drugs, and a sizable proportion believe that medications on the market 10 years or more, such as generics, are safer than newer drugs, according to findings from the Medco Monitor, a national commissioned survey conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Medco.

Other findings centered on the knowledge gap in confidence and safety of generic drugs-one quarter of the physicians surveyed stated that they do not believe generic medications to be chemically equivalent to their brand counterpart, with more than 8% unsure. Nearly one in five physicians believes generic drugs are less safe than brand-name medications, and more than one in four doctors (27%) believe that generic drugs cause more side effects.

Patient prescription drug behaviors were also among the important findings:

"This study illustrates the ever-emerging market for generic prescription drugs," according to Robert Epstein, MD, Medco's chief medical officer. "Given the evidence supporting the benefits of generic medicines, these survey results underscore the need to provide educational outreach to physicians concerning generics. Generics deliver the dual benefit of quality therapy that provides economic benefits to the patient and payer, ensuring prescription healthcare remains affordable and accessible."

It is important to note that physicians have always been acutely aware of the risk/reward ratio when prescribing a medication, according to Dr. Epstein.

"Given the recent influx of drugs that have been subject to recalls, blackbox warnings and well-publicized FDA hearings, it is critical that managed care professionals continue to educate their providers and consumers on the latest information about the medications they prescribe and consume," he says.

While safety risks can be associated with newer drugs in any class, The Medco Monitor found that cardiovascular risks associated with COX-2 inhibitors and the risk of suicidal tendencies in children using antidepressants have led to a significant drop in the usage of these drugs.