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$4 Generics Could Save the U.S. $6 Billion

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Researchers from University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) calculated the savings from using common discounted generic drug programs instead of full-priced generics or brand-name drugs. The team estimated those savings at nearly $6 billion. Their findings appear in the current issue of  Archives of Internal Medicine (paid subscription required).

The study covered people who used generic medications or their brand-name counterparts that also were available for $4.00 per 30-day supply through a discounted generic drug program. The study found that among the patients taking these medications, less than six percent used the $4.00 generic medication programs in 2007. In contrast, the prescription drug coverage plans asked these patients to pay on average about $10.00 for a 30-day supply of generic drugs and about $25.00 per 30-day supply for brand-name medications.

The researchers examined a nationally representative sample of nearly 31,000 people in the 2007 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and identified patients who could have saved money had they filled their medications through a discount generic drug program. The researchers calculated potential savings as the difference between the actual prescription payments recorded in MEPS and the $4.00 the patients would have paid through a discount program.

Had all eligible patients used the discount programs in 2007, the team calculated the overall societal savings at $5.8 billion. Yuting Zhang, the GSPH faculty member who led the study, notes that individual patient would have saved some $22.00 a year. “This suggests the majority of savings comes from a small proportion of individuals,” adds Zhang.

Read more: Survey: Workers Use Employer Health Plan for Medical Info

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