Doctors who prescribe electronically are more likely to select generics than pricey brand-name meds. In an 18-month study of more than 35,000 Massachusetts physicians, researchers found that an electronic system, which enables practitioners to tap in prescriptions and send them to pharmacies wirelessly, boosted the popularity of generics from 55 percent of all prescriptions to 61 percent. In contrast, a control group of physicians—who were not taught how to e-prescribe—were less inclined to go generic: those prescriptions increased from about 53 to 56 percent during the study period. So far only about 20 percent of physicians e-prescribe; if the practice were widely adopted, nearly $4 million per 100,000 patients could be saved annually, according to the study authors. The findings are in the December 8, 2008, Archives of Internal Medicine.
This article was originally published with the title "Rx Generics via Electronics" in Scientific American 300, 2, 31 (February 2009)