Patients who are prescribed generic drugs f are more likely to continue taking them than patients who take brand-name drugs, a new study has found.

The Study

Dr. William Shrank, of Brigham and -Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, analyzed how well 6,755 patients who were enrolled in a three-tier pharmacy benefit plan stuck to their drug regimens. Under this plan, the patients had the highest copayment for nonpreferred brand-name drugs (third tier), smaller copayments for preferred brand-name drugs (second tier) and the smallest or no copayment for generic drugs.

There were six classes of drugs included in the study: cholesterol-lowering statins, oral contraceptives, orally inhaled corticosteroids (used to treat asthma) and three types of antihypertensive (calcium-channel blockers, angiotensin receptor blockers as well as angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors). The group received 7,532 new prescriptions during the study.

Participants who took generic drugs showed 12.6% greater therapy adherence than patients who took brand-name third-tier drugs, the study authors report. Patients who took second-tier drugs had 8% greater adherence than those who used third-tier drugs.

These findings are another reason why "generic drugs should be prescribed for patients beginning chronic therapy, as long as there are no specific clinical reasons why a branded drug maybe more appropriate," says Shrank.

"Physicians commonly prescribe chronic medications for important medical problems. Both physicians and patients should be aware of how the medication choice directly influences the patient's ability to follow the prescribed treatment," he says.

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