Generics Called One Answer to Lowering Healthcare Costs
By George Anderson
A new study says American consumers could have held on to $20 billion last year if they had purchased generic drugs instead of buying a name brand version. It also says that consumers could save $25 billion if they make the switch next year.
The study conducted by the pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts included an analysis of six classes of prescription medicines. According to the company, generics cost about $60 less based on a monthly prescription than brand name medicines. Consumers also have lower co-payments for generics, another source of savings.
Steve Miller, MD, vice president, research, Express Scripts and an author of the study results said in a released statement: “We have only scratched the surface in taking advantage of the money-saving potential of clinically sound generic drugs. As additional generics come to market and the use of prescription drugs grows, the opportunity to lower healthcare costs becomes even more significant. Best of all, using more generics simply requires better education and awareness of alternatives, not a big-dollar up-front investment.”
Dr. Miller added, “Consider that $20 billion in generic drug savings in just six therapy classes is the same amount America’s community hospitals spend each year on uncompensated care for the uninsured.”
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America took issue with Express Scripts findings.
Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the trade group, said in a released statement: “Much of the increase in generic drug use advocated by Express Scripts involves switching patients to medicines different from those prescribed by their physicians. They are not generic copies of the prescribed treatments. Patients differ from one another, as do medicines in a therapeutic class. It is important that the patient and his or her physician determine which medicine is right for the patient.”
Moderator’s Comment: Should retailers be pushing generics and suggesting them as an alternative to name brand pharmaceuticals? What can they do to promote
generics without going beyond ethical boundaries?
According to Express Scripts’ web site, 51 percent of all prescriptions in the U.S. are filled using generics.
In a separate story, Walgreens announced it is looking to source greater quantities of generic drugs from India. The company said it is looking to increase
the amount it purchases from manufacturers in the Asian country so that it can further drive down the cost of purchase for the company. –
George Anderson – Moderator
- Study Reveals $20 Billion in Untapped Generic
Drug Savings – Express Scripts/ PRNewswire-FirstCall
- Walgreen looks to India for drug purchases – Chicago Sun-Times
- Generic Drugs Could Have Saved Us $20B – The Associated Press/The