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Your Take: Do You Buy Generics or Brand Name Medicine?

I stumbled onto this NPR story about Matthew Gentzkow [3], an economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth school, and how he was trying to get to the bottom of why so many people bought brand name medicine.

What I found fascinating was that they looked at an enormous dataset (66 million shopping trips) and found that experts (nurses, doctors, pharmacists) were less likely to buy brands than average people. Pharmacists bought generics 90% of the time. Average people bought them 70% of the time.

They also asked people who bought brand name and it was all image driven. One guy didn’t want his wife to think he was cheap, one said Bayer reminded her of her grandmother, etc.

Personally, we buy generics all the time (OK not all the time, but pretty often). The price difference on some products is absurd. You can go into a Costco and buy a package of 365 pills of loratadine (the active ingredient of Claritin) for what seems like pennies. Go check out the price of Claritin in the grocery store, it’ll leave you gobsmacked.

That said, there are few medicines I use on a regular basis. If I’m not taking it all the time, does it really matter that much if I overpay a little? I don’t think so. I know we have both ibuprofen and Advil in our cabinet. So there was one day when we overpaid for ibuprofen… but that’s life.

Do you buy generics or brand name? Any reasons?

(Credit: An Nguyen Photography [4])