Background: Consumers are hesitant in choosing generic medications as they are under the assumption that they are not as safe nor effective as brand medications. However, pharmacists do have the education and training to know that this is not the case. The aim of this study was to determine pharmacists’ preference of generic versus brand over-the-counter (OTC) medication for their personal use as self-treatment for various health symptoms. Methods: A prospective, cross sectional study was conducted on 553 licensed pharmacists who were presumed to have expertise in the use of generic and brand name OTC medications. In a single Southwestern state in the United States, from December 2014 to January 2015, a web-based questionnaire was sent to pharmacists to explore their preference of brand and generic medications based on various health symptoms. Thirty-one brand-generic medication pairs were used to identify which medication type pharmacists preferred when asked about nine health symptoms. Frequency counts of pharmacists’ preference of a brand medication or a generic OTC medication overall and for each of the nine health symptoms were determined. Chi-squared analyses and one-way ANOVA were conducted to determine if there were any differences between the preferences of brand and generic OTC medications across each symptom. Results: The study overall showed that pharmacists preferred generic OTC medications to brand OTC medications (62 to 5 %, respectively). Based on an 11-point rating scale, pharmacists were likely to take OTC generic medications (as their choice of self-treatment) when presented with health symptoms (mean = 7.32 ± 2.88). In addition, pharmacists chose generic OTC medications over brand medications regardless of health symptoms (p <0.001). Conclusion: Pharmacists who have expertise in medications were shown to prefer using generic OTC medications rather than brand name OTC medications for self-treating a variety of health symptoms. These study findings support the theory that expertise affects preference for generic versus brand name OTC medications. This information can be used to provide consumers the evidence needed to make well-informed choices when choosing between brand and generic medications.
- Generic medications
- OTC medications
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
- Health Policy