TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- More than a third of American doctors say they sometimes or often write prescriptions for pricier, brand-name drugs when a patient requests it, despite the availability of cheaper and equally effective generic options, a new national survey reveals.
The study also found that drug company marketing efforts might play a role in the trend. Doctors who accepted small freebies, such as free drug samples or food or drinks, were more likely to opt for brand-name drugs vs. physicians who did not, the research showed.
"The point is, industry marketing works," said study author Eric Campbell, a professor of medicine in the department of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Despite the fact that controlling health care, and not wasting scarce resources, is a fundamental tenet of practicing medicine."
He said the added costs get passed on to everyone.
"The increased cost of prescribing non-generic drugs when generics are available are born by the patients in terms of higher co-pays and by society in the form of higher insurance premiums," Campbell noted.
"But, we found that 37 percent of doctors do this sometimes or often, despite the fact that the winners are always the drug companies and the losers are always the patients," he said.
"That figure, which is big already, is probably an underestimate," Campbell added, "because even though our survey was anonymous there's still going to be a reluctance among doctors to admit to doing something that would be perceived negatively."
The findings were reported online Jan. 7 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, generic drugs are "required to have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form and route of administration as the brand name."
FDA statistics suggest that about 80 percent of all drugs taken in the Unite
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