Healthcare Insights

Top 20 medical specialties with highest propensity to prescribe branded drugs

Whether they’re dealing with life-saving antibiotics or simple pain relievers, physicians and other healthcare providers have ever-increasing options for medications to recommend to their patients.

For biopharma companies looking to maximize the potential return on investment for a new drug, insight into provider prescription activity is key. With this intelligence, a biopharma company can identify and engage with the physicians most likely to prescribe their medication to patients.

How can provider prescribing activity be measured and tracked?

To help understand a provider’s prescribing behavior, Definitive Healthcare developed a “Propensity to Prescribe Brand Name Drugs” dashboard.

For each physician, the percent of historical prescriptions written for brand name drugs is calculated and compared to all other physicians in their specialty. Higher scores reflect a provider’s tendency to prescribe brand name drugs for their patients instead of generics in comparison to their peers.

Using PhysicianView, we analyzed over 283,000 healthcare providers that had either a “high” or “very high” propensity to prescribe brand name drugs.

The following are the top primary specialties of providers with the highest likelihood to select a branded versus generic medication.

Number of physician specialists by highest propensity to prescribe branded drugs

RankPrimary specialtyNumber of providersExplore dataset
1Family Practice45,766Explore
2Internal Medicine39,039Explore
3Pediatric Medicine18,335Explore
4Emergency Medicine16,775Explore
7Cardiology - Cardiologist9,464Explore
8Surgery - Orthopedic Surgery9,139Explore
13Surgery - General Surgery6,695Explore
15Pulmonary Disease4,786Explore
18Oncology - Hematology/Oncology4,154Explore
20Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation3,446Explore

Fig. 1 Data is from our PhysicianView product. Physician Dashboard data is proprietary and aggregated from commercial claims data sourced from multiple medical claims clearinghouses in the United States. Data accessed March 2024.

Which provider specialties have the highest likelihood to prescribe brand-named medications?

Family medicine and internal medicine top the list with over 84,000 of these physicians having the highest propensity to prescribe branded drugs. Pediatric medicine, emergency medicine and obstetrics/gynecology round out the top five primary specialties on the list.

Why would a doctor prescribe brand-name drugs over generics?

Generic drugs are among the most-prescribed medications on the market, but there are several reasons why a physician might prescribe brand-name drugs instead of generics.

In some cases, the physician may believe that a specific brand-name drug is more effective or better suited to a specific patient’s needs. The decision may also be influenced by legal or regulatory factors, such as limitations on generic substitution laws in certain jurisdictions or requirements by insurance companies.

Occasionally, brand-name drugs may also be more affordable for patients due to discounts, coupons, or patient assistance programs. Generic drugs may also suffer from less consistent supply chains, making brand-name offerings the better (or only) option in certain circumstances.

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Healthcare Insights are developed with data from the Definitive Healthcare platform. Want even more insights? Start a free trial now and get access to the highest quality healthcare commercial intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers.