Generic Medications: How Many Providers are Prescribing Them?

We've all been lured by the influence of pharmaceutical companies. From free lunches and snacks to dinners at renowned restaurants, drug reps want us to prescribe their new and allegedly improved medications.  But how many of us are actually taking the bait?

It's undeniable that prescribing generic medications is in the best interest of our patients.  If a generic medication is available for treatment of a patient's condition, it will save them a significant amount of money over a brand name alternative.  As providers, prescribing generics is in our interest as well. We want our patients to be happy and satisfied with their care.  Prescribing generics saves us time; we get fewer pharmacy call-backs regarding patients who cannot afford their medications.  Our patients experience better outcomes with generic medications.  Rather than picking and choosing which medications they will take based on price, they can afford them all.

It appears that physicians and nurse practitioners are increasingly aware of the benefits of generic medications and are beginning to resist the powerful reach of pharmaceutical companies.  Currently, 80 percent of prescriptions filled are for generic medications.  This number is up from 57 percent in 2004 and 75 percent in 2009.  More and more drugs continue to go off patent, allowing generic manufacturers to produce them and prescribers to write for a larger number of inexpensive medications.  The FDA predicts that by 2014 the sale of branded drugs will decrease by an astounding $113 billion.  

Working as a nurse practitioner in the ER with mostly uninsured patients, the medications I prescribe are almost entirely generic.  I have to say, I don't really miss the branded medications.  Furthermore, with the absence of pharma-delivered food in my workplace my waistline has also experienced a positive outcome.  As providers, let's continue the trend of moving toward prescribing a larger percentage of generic medications.  Our patients will thank us. 

What percentage of branded medications do you prescribe?  Which branded medications do you still find essential to your practice?