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Physicians are Prescribing Too Many Brand Name Drugs, Says Review

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Next time you visit the doctor’s office to refill your prescription, you may want to ask for the generic version. 

A new guideline published by the American College of Physicians in Annals of Internal Medicine recommends that doctors should be prescribing generic medications when possible, rather than their brand name equivalents. 

In the paper, the ACP found that the potential cost savings of prescribing eight common medication classes as generic equivalents could be more than $20 billion annually.  Plus, since generic drugs cost less, patients are more likely to pick them up from the pharmacy and more likely to adhere to their medication regimen. 

"While the use of generic drugs has increased over time, clinicians often prescribe more expensive brand name drugs when equally effective, well proven, and less expensive generic versions are available," said ACP President Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP. "The use of generic drugs is a High Value Care way to improve health, avoid harms, and eliminate wasteful practices."

Most of the peer-reviewed evidence has found that generic drugs are equally as effective as their brand name counterparts.  Despite this, many physicians and patients still express a preference for brand name drugs. 

The rate of generic drug prescription could be increased through computer-automated reminders for physicians and by providing patients with free samples of generic drugs.

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