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Pharmacies Lose Sales to Discount, Online, & Mail Order Drugstores

Generic Is the People's Choice
 
It wasn't hard to predict that generic prescription meds would continue to climb in popularity over brand name drugs, but just how quickly they have risen is surprising. One survey of 2,388 adults found a major shift in the meds Americans are buying, and where they buy them. In a period of just over two years, between 2006 and 2008, the proportion of adults who would select generic drugs over brand name prescription drugs - if given the choice - has increased from 68% to 81%.  And the number who would more often choose branded drugs has almost halved, down from 32% to only 19%.
 
Consumers shopping at chain drugstores, such as Walgreens or CVS, are down from 39% to 33%. The numbers are also bleak for local independent pharmacies - their share of drug purchases fell from 12% to 8%. Consumers have been shopping more often for their drugs in discount stores like Wal-Mart, Target or Sam's Club (up from 13% to 17%), or shopping online or by mail order (up from 11% to 15%).
 
The state of the economy likely pushed consumers to try to curtail costs, but the shift was probably going to occur no matter what.
 
In line with the other findings, the amount of money people say they are willing to pay out-of-pocket for a 30-day supply of generic prescription drugs has declined since 2006. Two years ago, 56% of adults said they were willing to spend more than $10; now only 48% say they would do so.
 
The Big Loser: Drug Research & Development
 
One can only guess why Americans want generic medications - it could be that they see it as a way to bring down insurance costs, or they believe prescription drugs are overpriced. While the increased use of low-cost generics is predictable, the size of this trend is striking. It is good news for those seeking to contain health care costs, including the government's Part D Medicare drug benefit program. It is not good news for pharmaceutical firms trying to generate the profits to fund their drug research, or for their shareholders.

By Chris Navarro
Get Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs, Contributing Editor

Source: The Harris Poll® Jan. 26, 2009, "Substantial Increase in Public Preference for Genericover Brand Name Drugs." Harris Interactive Inc.  All rights reserved.

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