Doctors should more diligently prescribe generic medicines whenever possible, both to help contain rising prescription drug costs and to improve the chances that patients will adhere to their therapies, a top physicians group said last week.

Generic drugs now account for roughly 88 percent of prescriptions in the United States, even though they amount to less than a third of the more than $325 billion Americans spend each year on prescription drugs. But the American College of Physicians in Philadelphia says doctors should be using generics even more often than they already do.

Researchers detailed several reasons in a paper published Monday in the group's journal, Annals of Internal Medicine.

One key hurdle is that some patients - and even some doctors - perceive lower-cost generic drugs as inferior and associate them with lower effectiveness, despite evidence that most work just as well as their brand-name counterparts. In addition, the report found many physicians still refer to drugs by their original brand names, even long after generic versions become available, which can result in their inadvertently prescribing more expensive drugs.

- Washington Post