Generic Drugs Continue to Help Health Systems Save Billions of Dollars

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Annual savings from generic prescription drugs increased 328% from 2005-2016, according to the new 2016 Generic Drug Savings and Access in the United States report, compiled by the QuintilesIMS Institute on behalf of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA). This report confirms again that generic drugs are essential to reducing health costs and play a critical role in growing patient access.

“Generic drugs are the foundation of any successful effort to lower health spending and increase patient access to affordable medicine,” said Chip Davis, President and CEO, GPhA. “A diverse group of experts — the federal government, pharmacy benefit managers, consumer groups and others — agree that generic drugs drive system savings, not costs. More can be done to increase patient access to safe, effective and more affordable generic medicines. GPhA will continue working with policymakers, regulators and others to bring greater health savings to our country. That effort begins with policy that builds on this industry’s record of significant savings and promotes generic competition.”

Key findings from this year’s report include:

  • Generic drugs are 89% of prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. but only 27% of drug costs
  • $227 billion in 2015 savings
  • $1.46 trillion 10-year savings (2006-2015)
  • Medicare savings: $67.6 billion in 2015 which translates to savings of $1,737 per enrollee
  • Medicaid savings: $32.7 billion which translates to savings of $450 per enrollee.

Nearly 3.9 billion of the total 4.4 billion prescriptions dispensed in the United States are for generics. Generics make up 89% of prescriptions dispensed but only 27% of total medicine spending. Put another way, brand drugs are 11% of prescriptions and responsible for 73% of drug costs.

The report also looks at state-by state savings and generic savings by therapy area. Notably, the most savings from generic drugs were found in mental health ($34.4 billion), hypertension ($25.8 billion) and cholesterol ($24.5 billion) treatments.

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