Not buying it: Medical professionals go generic, study shows

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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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