I received a comment on my March 26th blog regarding the equal nature of generics to brand name drugs. The comment was as follows:

If generics and name brand prescription drugs are "identical," why do doctors overwhelming only use name brand drugs for their family?

That was an interesting question. I'm wondering if there is a factual basis to it, i.e. is it the questioner's opinion or is there some data that underlies his comment? My own experience with MD's, PA's, NP's, and dentists is that almost all get generics. Some do insist on brand, but I can reclassify these as retired, or nearing retirement age, and coming from a, shall we say, snooty neighborhood. My feeling is that they can afford the best, and so choose to shell out for the
brand, as only the top shelf is good enough for them.

Also, you have to take into account that drug companies fuel the doctor's larder with free (the magic word for doctors) brand drugs. Doctors are pretty much like everyone else: give them enough free samples and they will be yours forever. It's like doctors are walking through some great big grocery warehouse and the little old ladies handing out food samples are actually well-dressed, chatty drug salespeople. Would you like to try one of our newest Lipitors? Just out of the oven! The brand companies know this works, just like the food companies. And it's not just sampling: How many free lunches and dinners does it take to buy one's loyalty? Not many. Eventually--and it doesn't take long--doctors feel the brand stuff is superior.

There is another classification which they fall under: stupid. Anybody dumb enough to pay four times or more what the generic costs is a simpleton. I don't care if they can open your brain up and pluck a tumor out the size of a softball, they are still stupid in the arena of economics and, yes, even other areas of medicine, such as pharmaceuticals.

Most people don't know this, and most won't believe it simply because I tell them, but doctors simply don't know a lot about the drugs they prescribe. Oh, for a handful of drugs, the drugs that they rely on, yes they probably know a good deal, but outside that handful...watch out. They certainly would be surprised to know that upwards of 80% of generics are "branded" and made by the very companies that they feel are "top shelf".


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