Doctors often fulfill patient requests for brand-name drugs

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 14, 2013

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Many physicians prescribe brand-name medications to patients who request them even when an appropriate generic substitute is available, said a research letter published online Jan. 7 in JAMA Internal Medicine, previously known as Archives of Internal Medicine.

Forty-three percent of physicians in practice for more than 30 years say they sometimes or often give in to patient demands for brand-name drugs, the study said. Thirty-one percent of doctors in practice for 10 years or less filled such requests.

The findings indicate a significant source of unnecessary health costs, because generic medications often are 30% to 80% less expensive than brand-name drugs, said lead study author Eric G. Campbell, PhD. He is director of research at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Researchers surveyed 1,891 U.S. physicians in 2009 who practice in seven specialties. The specialties were anesthesiology, cardiology, family medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry.

Internists were more likely to give in to patient demands than anesthesiologists, cardiologists, general surgeons and pediatricians, the report said. Doctors working in solo or two-person practices were more likely to prescribe brand-name drugs to patients who requested them than were physicians working in hospitals or medical school settings (link).

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