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Statistical Gold from Consumer Reports


August 10, 2011 – The results of a Consumer Reports’ National Research Center survey provides rare insight into consumer behavior and attitudes regarding prescription drugs.


Consumer Reports surveyed over 2,000 men and women over the course of three years and found that 49% of Americans currently take a prescription drug. Among those currently taking a prescription drug, the average number they regularly take is 4.5 medicines, and 16% take seven or more. Monthly out-of-pocket spending was $59 for those taking a prescription drug, with 12% spending more than $100 a month.


The survey concluded that “Consumers continue to economize on healthcare by cutting corners in ways that may be dangerous.” In the past year, nearly half (48%) took some action to reduce costs and 28% failed to comply with prescriptions. Most commonly, these patients skipped filling a prescription, took an expired medication, skipped a scheduled dosage, or cut prescribed pills in half (without approval from their doctor).


Fortunately, doctors are hearing from their patients. 60% of consumers who take medicines have addressed cost with their doctor or economized via lifestyle changes. 36% of those taking medicine spoke to their physician about switching precriptions in order to save money, including 54% of consumers who spent in excess of $50 per month.


The good news is that, “Virtually all consumers (98%) are aware of prescription drugs, and among those who regularly take a medicine, generics account for three-quarters of their prescriptions.”


However, only half (54%) of consumers said that their doctor “always” or “usually” recommends generic substitutes and, overwhelmingly, consumers do not learn what a new prescription will cost until they pick it up at the pharmacy (64%). Indeed, almost no one (5%) found about about cost during the doctor visit, when the script actually was written.

Download the full report here:

“Best Buy Drugs Prescription Drug Tracking Poll 3,” Consumer Reports, August 10, 2011