Billion in Generic Drug Savings Underscores
Need to End Generic-Approval Backlog at FDA
A report finding consumers could save nearly $25 billion this year
by switching to generic prescription drugs underscores the need for
the Food and Drug Administration to remove roadblocks that are keeping
more affordable generics from reaching the market quickly, Consumers
“It’s been estimated that up to 800 generics have yet
to reach the market because the FDA has a three-year approval backlog.
When generics aren’t available, consumers are forced to pay
for equivalent higher-priced, heavily advertised brand-name drugs,”
said Bill Vaughan, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union, publisher
of Consumer Reports.
“The Federal Trade Commission and the FDA also need to do more
to stop the outrageous, but growing practice of brand-name companies
manipulating the generic market through so-called ‘authorized’
generics, and by actually paying generic manufacturers to delay bringing
lower-cost drugs to market,” Vaughan added.
The analysis released by Express Scripts, Inc., one of the largest
pharmacy benefit managers in North America, found that Americans could
save $24.7 billion this year if they were prescribed more generics
in six major drug classes for treating conditions such as heart disease,
ulcers, pain, depression, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The company said the savings reflected in part the introduction of
two new generics this year – the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin
(generic Zocor) and the antidepressant drug sertraline (generic Zoloft).
The report is the second in recent months to quantify generic savings.
An analysis released in April by the Pharmaceutical Care Management
Association – the trade group for pharmacy benefit managers
(PBMs) – projected $26.4 billion in savings between now and
2009 if optimal use is made of 14 generic drugs scheduled to become
available over that period. Much of the savings would accrue to people
over age 65, and thus reduce expenditures in the new Medicare drug
Consumers Union’s free public education project on prescription
drugs, Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs (www.CRBestBuyDrugs.org) has
identified the most effective, safe and affordable medicines in 13
drug classes, with most of the “Best Buys” being generics.
“Switching to generics whenever possible is, quite simply, one
of the clearest paths to reducing health care spending in the years
ahead,” said Steve Findlay, Best Buy Drugs managing editor.
“But we need government policies and practices in the marketplace
to make sure the obstacles on that path are removed.”
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