Generics Forecast Beefs up for Medicare Patients

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May 02, 2002
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The cost of prescriptions for the Medicare population could be reduced by as much as $14 billion next year through the greater use of generic drugs, according to Cindy Thomas, a research scientist with the Schneider Institute for Health Policy at Brandeis University. The Brandeis study found that beneficiaries of a Medicare prescription drug program would save more than $350 per person if generics incentive mechanisms were used.

Consumers say they are willing to accept generic drugs if recommended by pharmacists and/or physicians, says Chris Bradbury, senior director of health business for physician relations at Merck-Medco Managed Care. Bradbury appealed to generic drug manufacturers to provide Merck-Medco with additional samples that the PBM can make available to physicians, particularly involving those drugs in which they hold product exclusives. Although most PBMs incorporate policies promoting the use of generic drugs, brand name pharmaceuticals still represent a majority of prescription sales, reports the Chain Drug Review.

Chris Jennings, president of Jennings Policy Strategies Inc., notes that the positive momentum of the generics industry should continue during the next few years as brand name drugs encounter expirations of their patents.

Jennings, believes that the passage of the Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals
Act, cosponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and John McCain (R., Ariz.)
is the industry’s No. 1 priority. Commonly referred to as GAAP, the bill would
eliminate a number of patent extensions and simplify the approval process for
generics.

Moderator Comment: Should pharmacy retailers support
the Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act, cosponsored by Senators
Schumer and McCain? [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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