Characteristics of Individuals Who Prefer Branded Innovator over Generic Medicines

Maria Kleinstäuber, University of Auckland
Kate MacKrill, University of Auckland
Keith J. Petrie, University of Auckland


Background: Although generic medicines provide a safe and economical treatment for many illnesses, negative attitudes towards generics are common and branded innovator drugs are often preferred to generic drugs. Objective: The current study examined differences between individuals preferring branded innovator drugs compared with individuals preferring generic drugs or having no preference. We investigated differences in terms of demographics, perceived sensitivity to medicines, symptom burden, and other clinical variables. Methods: A representative general population sample (n = 1000) was recruited using random digit dialling. In a telephone interview, participants were asked about their preferences for and attitudes toward innovator versus generic drugs, perceived sensitivity to medicines, recent symptoms, and other clinical variables, such as the number of general practitioner (GP) visits, and medicine-related information-seeking behaviour. Results: Univariate logistic regression analyses showed that individuals preferring branded innovator medicines reported lower levels of education, more negative attitudes toward generic medicines, higher perceived sensitivity to medicines, a greater symptom burden and more frequent GP visits. There were no between-group differences in whether participants were currently prescribed drugs, or in participants’ medicine-related information-seeking behaviour. Entering all variables into a multivariate logistic regression model confirmed the findings of the univariate models, apart from perceived sensitivity of medicine and symptom burden. The multivariate analysis also confirmed non-European NZ ethnicity and having no current medication prescription to be significantly associated with a preference for branded medicines. Conclusions: Clinicians should be especially aware that the preference for a branded innovator medicine is higher in patients with lower education, higher perceived sensitivity to medicines, higher levels of symptom burden, higher levels of healthcare utilization and not currently taking any prescription medication.