Not buying it: Medical professionals go generic, study shows

Researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business have news for OTC drug marketers who may feel comfortable that branded drugs are highly regarded among HCPs: Don't be.

Looking at Nielsen Homescan data that covered over 66 million shopping trips between 2004 and 2010, the researchers found that medical professionals were more likely to buy private-label headache remedies vs. branded ones than peers in non health-related fields because they know more. In addition to headache meds, researchers also looked at food and drinks and found the same thing: the more consumers know about the materials in their products, the more likely they are to use private-label versions.

In terms of headaches, researchers found that were consumers to hit the pharmacists' awareness mark—89% familiarity with the active ingredients—that branded headache medicine sales could plummet 55%, amounting to about $410 million in sales. Elevate that level of awareness to other healthcare categories like cold medications, and this comes out to an additional $340 million. Spin it further, to include food staples like sugar (food professionals are the basis of this estimate) and drinks, and the overall sales-scape would shrink by $1.1 billion.

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