Whether Prescribed or Over-the-Counter, Americans Prefer Generics

Millennials and those with children in the household are the most likely to reach for a brand name drug

05:00 AM EST Dec 2, 2015 Rating
  • Tools
Whether Prescribed or Over-the-Counter, Americans Prefer Generics

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Whether they’re looking to fill a prescription or to pick up an over-the-counter (OTC) remedy, Americans are reaching for generics over name brand drugs. Among those who purchase prescription drugs for themselves, nearly seven in ten (69%) say they would choose generic more often, when given a choice. Three in ten (30%) go as far as saying they would “always” choose generic.

While just 31% opt for a brand name script more often, Millennials are more likely than any other generation to do so (38% vs. 30% Gen Xers, 27% Baby Boomers & 22% Matures). Those with children in the household are also more likely to go the name-brand route, compared to those without (36% vs. 28%).

Americans tell a similar story for over-the-counter drug purchases as well. When given a choice, over six in ten purchasers (63%) say they would choose generic more often. Nearly one-quarter (24%) will “always” reach for the generic option. Older generations are more likely than their younger counterparts to go the generic route (68% both Matures & Baby Boomers vs. 62% Gen Xers & 58% Millennials).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,255 U.S. adults surveyed online between August 12 and 17, 2015.

Do it for the kids?

When it comes to purchasing medications for their kids, regardless of whether they’re prescription or OTC, parents continue to reach for generics. For prescription purchases, over six in ten (61%) fill the scripts with a generic compared to the 34% who stick with the brand names.

While generics remain the favorite, the disparity between them and brand names does lessen when buying OTC medications for children. Just over half (52%) purchase generic OTC drugs for their children, while 42% reach for the brand name option.

Interestingly, for both prescription and OTC purchases, those in urban settings are nearly twice as likely to pick up a brand name drug for a child, compared to those in suburban or rural settings.

When it comes down to the money

Looking at how much they’re actually willing to pay for their own generic prescriptions, nearly half of purchasers (48%) say they would only pay $10 or less for a 30-day supply. Meanwhile, 31% would pay between $10.01 and $25.00 and 11% would pay between $25.01 and $50. Just 4% would be willing to shell out more than $50 for a generic-filled prescription for themselves. However, this number nearly triples when considering purchasing for a child. Eleven percent of those buying generic drugs for a child say they would pay over $50.

Interestingly, Millennials and those in households with children are all more likely to say they would pay over ten dollars out-of-pocket for generic prescription drugs.

Where to get the goods

The vast majority of Americans purchase prescription and OTC medications (93% & 96%, respectively) and there are plenty of purchase channel options, but Americans have their favorites.

For prescription drugs, chain drug stores (think Walgreens or CVS) are the favorite, with half (50%) doing their Rx shopping at these locations. Other top marketplaces for scripts include discount stores (like Walmart or Target) (23%), a supermarket (18%), or online/by mail order (16%). Fewer utilize a local pharmacy (12%) or the pharmacy at a hospital or medical center (9%).

Turning to OTC drugs, two top contenders lead the field: discount stores are the top destination for these purchases, with 57% of Americans using them for OTC purchases; chain drug stores come in a close second with 51%. A third of adults visit supermarkets (32%), while one in ten hit local pharmacies (10%) and fewer utilize online/mail order (5%) or the pharmacy at a hospital or medical center (3%) for their OTC needs.


 TABLE 1a

WHERE PEOPLE BUY PRESCRIPTION DRUGS/MEDICINE

By Generation & Children in Household

“Where do you typically buy prescription drugs or medicine for yourself or a family member? Please select all that apply.”

Base: All Adults

 

Total

Generation

Children in Household

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Purchase Prescription Drugs (NET)

93

91

90

95

98

94

92

     A chain drug store (e.g., Walgreens, CVS, Eckerd)

50

59

51

44

42

58

46

     A discount store (e.g., Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club)

23

29

23

20

17

30

20

     A supermarket (e.g., Safeway, Shop Rite, Kroger)

18

18

15

18

20

17

18

     Online or by mail order

16

7

10

24

27

10

19

     A local/independent pharmacy or drug store

12

15

13

9

15

17

10

     The pharmacy at a hospital or medical center

9

12

9

6

5

11

8

     Somewhere else

2

2

1

3

6

1

3

Never purchase prescription drugs

7

9

10

5

2

6

8

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

 

TABLE 1b

WHERE PEOPLE BUY PRESCRIPTION DRUGS/MEDICINE

By Region & Metro Status

“Where do you typically buy prescription drugs or medicine for yourself or a family member? Please select all that apply.”

Base: All Adults

 

Total

Region

Metro Status

East

Midwest

South

West

Urban

Suburban

Rural

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Purchase Prescription Drugs (NET)

93

93

96

93

90

95

93

90

     A chain drug store (e.g., Walgreens, CVS, Eckerd)

50

56

51

51

42

56

52

36

     A discount store (e.g., Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club)

23

20

21

26

23

24

19

30

     A supermarket (e.g., Safeway, Shop Rite, Kroger)

18

12

17

23

15

21

18

14

     Online or by mail order

16

14

19

15

15

14

18

14

     A local/independent pharmacy or drug store

12

15

11

12

12

15

9

17

     The pharmacy at a hospital or medical center

9

7

9

8

12

11

8

7

     Somewhere else

2

1

2

1

5

1

3

2

Never purchase prescription drugs

7

7

4

7

10

5

7

10

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

 

 

TABLE 2a

WHERE PEOPLE BUY OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUGS/MEDICINE

By Generation & Children in Household

“And where do you typically buy over-the-counter drugs or medicine (i.e., drugs or medicine not requiring a prescription) for yourself or a family member? Please select all that apply.”

Base: All Adults

 

Total

Generation

Children in Household

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Purchase OTC Drugs (NET)

96

94

96

98

97

97

96

     A discount store (e.g., Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club)

57

59

57

57

51

62

54

     A chain drug store (e.g., Walgreens, CVS, Eckerd)

51

61

50

45

46

56

48

     A supermarket (e.g., Safeway, Shop Rite, Kroger)

32

34

28

31

34

30

33

     A local/independent pharmacy or drug store

10

14

8

7

11

13

9

     Online or by mail order

5

6

4

4

5

4

5

     The pharmacy at a hospital or medical center

3

6

3

1

2

4

3

     Somewhere else

4

1

4

8

4

1

6

Never purchase over-the-counter drugs

4

6

4

2

3

3

4

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

 

TABLE 2b

WHERE PEOPLE BUY OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUGS/MEDICINE

By Region & Metro Status

“And where do you typically buy over-the-counter drugs or medicine (i.e., drugs or medicine not requiring a prescription) for yourself or a family member? Please select all that apply.”

Base: All Adults

 

Total

Region

Metro Status

East

Midwest

South

West

Urban

Suburban

Rural

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Purchase OTC Drugs (NET)

96

97

96

98

93

98

96

94

     A discount store (e.g., Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club)

57

48

59

63

53

50

56

67

     A chain drug store (e.g., Walgreens, CVS, Eckerd)

51

57

49

50

49

62

53

34

     A supermarket (e.g., Safeway, Shop Rite, Kroger)

32

34

27

33

31

32

33

27

     A local/independent pharmacy or drug store

10

13

8

8

13

14

9

9

     Online or by mail order

5

6

4

5

4

8

4

2

     The pharmacy at a hospital or medical center

3

3

3

2

5

5

3

1

     Somewhere else

4

6

4

4

3

2

5

6

Never purchase over-the-counter drugs

4

3

4

2

7

2

4

6

Note: Multiple responses allowed.


TABLE 3

PREFERENCE FOR BRAND NAME OR GENERIC RX DRUGS FOR YOURSELF

By Generation and Children in Household

“If you had a choice between getting a brand name or generic prescription drug for yourself, how often would you choose one over the other?”

Base: Those Who Purchase Prescription Drugs

 

Total

Generation

Children in Household

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Would choose generic more often (NET)

69

62

70

73

78

64

72

        I would always choose to buy generic drugs over brand name

30

23

29

32

40

28

31

        I would much more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

24

23

24

26

22

23

25

        I would somewhat more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

15

15

17

15

16

12

17

Would choose brand name more often (NET)

31

38

30

27

22

36

28

        I would somewhat more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

13

16

13

11

10

15

12

        I would much more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

9

10

9

9

5

9

9

        I would always choose to buy brand name prescription drugs over generic

9

12

7

7

8

13

7

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 


TABLE 4a

HIGHEST ACCEPTABLE PRICE FOR 30 DAY SUPPLY OF GENERIC RX DRUGS FOR YOURSELF – TREND

“What is the most you would be willing to pay out-of-pocket for a 30-day supply of generic prescription drugs for yourself?”

Base: Would Buy Generic Prescription Drugs For Self

 

October

2006

December

2008

November 2014

August 2015

%

%

%

%

Nothing

5

4

8

6

$10.00 or less

40

49

50

48

$10.01 OR MORE (NET)

56

47

43

46

$10.01 - $25.00

36

33

28

31

$25.01 - $50.00

15

11

11

11

More than $50.00

5

4

4

4

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 

 

 

TABLE 4b

HIGHEST ACCEPTABLE PRICE FOR 30 DAY SUPPLY OF GENERIC RX DRUGS FOR YOURSELF

By Generation, Gender, and Children in Household

“What is the most you would be willing to pay out-of-pocket for a 30-day supply of generic prescription drugs for yourself?”

Base: Would Buy Generic Prescription Drugs For Self

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Children in Household

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Nothing

6

5

3

7

8

7

5

4

7

$10.00 or less

48

39

47

56

51

47

49

43

51

$10.01 OR MORE (NET)

46

56

51

37

40

46

46

54

42

$10.01 - $25.00

31

38

32

27

26

30

32

34

30

$25.01 - $50.00

11

16

15

6

8

12

10

15

9

More than $50.00

4

2

3

4

6

4

3

5

3

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 5

PREFERENCE FOR BRAND NAME OR GENERIC RX DRUGS FOR YOUR CHILD

By Generation and Metro Status

“If you had a choice between getting a brand name or generic prescription drug for your child, how often would you choose one over the other?”

Base: Those Who Purchase Prescription Drugs and Have A Child

 

Total

Generation

Metro Status

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Urban

Suburban

Rural

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Would choose generic more often (NET)

61

61

62

57

41

69

70

        I would always choose to buy generic drugs over brand name

27

27

26

29

20

30

30

        I would much more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

20

14

25

21

9

25

24

        I would somewhat more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

14

20

11

8

12

13

16

Would choose brand name more often (NET)

34

37

36

23

56

26

24

        I would somewhat more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

13

17

10

9

24

6

11

        I would much more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

12

12

14

11

17

12

7

        I would always choose to buy brand name prescription drugs over generic

9

8

12

6

15

7

6

NA – I don’t buy prescription drugs for my child

5

1

2

16

3

6

5

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 6

HIGHEST ACCEPTABLE PRICE FOR 30 DAY SUPPLY OF GENERIC RX DRUGS FOR CHILD

By Generation and Gender

“What is the most you would be willing to pay out-of-pocket for a 30-day supply of generic prescription drugs for your child?”

Base: Would Buy Generic Prescription Drugs For Child

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

Nothing

5

5

2

11

6

4

$10.00 or less

37

37

41

29

36

37

$10.01 OR MORE (NET)

59

59

57

60

58

59

$10.01 - $25.00

31

27

32

31

30

32

$25.01 - $50.00

16

21

12

15

18

15

More than $50.00

11

11

11

15

10

12

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 7

PREFERENCE FOR BRAND NAME OR GENERIC OTC DRUGS FOR YOURSELF

By Generation and Children in Household

“If you had a choice between getting a brand name or store label/generic over-the-counter drug for yourself, how often would you choose one over the other?”

Base: Those Who Purchase OTC Drugs

 

Total

Generation

Children in Household

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Would choose generic more often (NET)

63

58

62

68

68

60

66

        I would always choose to buy generic drugs over brand name

24

22

24

24

24

25

23

        I would much more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

23

24

19

24

25

23

23

        I would somewhat more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

17

12

19

19

18

12

20

Would choose brand name more often (NET)

37

42

38

32

32

40

34

        I would somewhat more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

17

18

21

15

15

16

18

        I would much more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

11

15

9

11

7

13

11

        I would always choose to buy brand name OTC drugs over generic

8

9

8

7

10

11

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 


TABLE 8

PREFERENCE FOR BRAND NAME OR GENERIC OTC DRUGS FOR YOUR CHILD

By Generation and Children in Household

“If you had a choice between getting a brand name or store label/generic over-the-counter drug for your child, how often would you choose one over the other?”

Base: Those Who Purchase OTC Drugs and Have A Child

 

Total

Generation

Metro Status

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Urban

Suburban

Rural

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Would choose generic more often (NET)

52

52

51

52

32

63

54

        I would always choose to buy generic drugs over brand name

21

22

23

17

16

25

21

        I would much more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

18

17

15

23

8

23

20

        I would somewhat more often choose to buy generic drugs than brand name

13

12

14

12

8

16

13

Would choose brand name more often (NET)

42

46

45

32

63

32

37

        I would somewhat more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

17

15

20

15

21

14

16

        I would much more often choose to buy brand name drugs than generic

15

21

12

11

27

7

13

        I would always choose to buy brand name OTC drugs over generic

11

10

14

7

14

10

7

NA – I don’t buy OTC drugs for my child

6

3

4

16

5

5

9

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 9

PARENTAL STATUS

 “On another topic, are you the parent/legal guardian of any child/children who is/are…? Please select all that apply.”

Base: All adults

 

Total

%

Parent of child ages 0-26 (NET)

34

Parent of child ages 0-17 (SUB-NET)

27

2 years of age or younger

7

3-5 years of age

7

6-9 years of age

10

10-12 years of age

8

13-17 years of age

11

18-26 years of age

10

27 years of age or older

19

I am not the parent/legal guardian of any children

49

Decline to answer

1

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 10

HOUSEHOLD AGE STATUS

 “How many people under the age of 18 live in your household?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

 

%

0

62

1

16

2

14

3

5

4

1

5+

1

Mean

0.7

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between August 12 and 17, 2015 among 2,255 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #77, December 2, 2015

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here!

Rate This Article: