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Research on Savings from Generic Drug Use

March 09, 2012 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

www.Medtipster.com Source: US Government Accountability Office, January 31 2012

What GAO Found

Our review identified articles that used varying approaches to estimate the savings associated with generic drug use in the United States. One group of studies estimated the savings in reduced drug costs that have accrued from the use of generics. For example, a series of studies estimated the total savings that have accrued to the U.S. health care system from substituting generic drugs for their brand-name counterparts, and found that from 1999 through 2010 doing so saved more than $1 trillion. A second group of studies estimated the potential to save more on drugs through greater use of generics. For example, one study assessed the potential for additional savings within the Medicare Part D program—which provides outpatient prescription drug coverage for Medicare—and found that if generic drugs had always been substituted for the brand-name drugs studied, about $900 million would have been saved in 2007. A third group of studies estimated the effect on health care costs of using generic versions of certain types of drugs where questions had generally been raised about whether substituting generic drugs for brand-name drugs was medically appropriate. Unlike the other two groups which focused on savings on drugs only, these studies compared savings from the lower cost of generic drugs to other health care costs that could accrue from their use, such as increased hospitalizations. The studies had mixed results regarding the effect of using these generics in that some found they raised health care costs, while others found they led to cost savings.

Why GAO Did This Study

Prescription drug spending in the United States reached $307 billion in 2010—an increase of $135 billion since 2001—and comprised approximately 12 percent of all health care spending in the country. Until the early 2000s, drug spending was one of the fastest growing components of health care spending. However, since that time, the rate of increase has generally declined each year, attributable in part to the greater use of generic drugs, which are copies of approved brand-name drugs. Generic versions of brand-name drugs become available to consumers when brand-name drugs’ patents and periods of market exclusivity expire and generic manufacturers obtain approval to market their drug. The competition that brand-name drugs face from generic equivalents is associated with lower overall drug prices, particularly as the number of generic manufacturers grows and price competition among them increases. On average, the retail price of a generic drug is 75 percent lower than the retail price of a brand-name drug.

Increased use of generic drugs can partly be attributed to the regulatory framework that was established in the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, commonly known as the Hatch-Waxman Act. The Hatch-Waxman Act facilitated earlier, and less costly, market entry of generic drugs, while protecting the patent rights of brand-name drug manufacturers, to encourage continued investment in research and development. When the act was enacted in 1984, the generic utilization rate—which is the share of all drugs dispensed that are generic—was about 19 percent. Today it is about 78 percent for drugs dispensed in retail settings, such as independent, chain, and mail-order pharmacies, as well as in long-term care facilitates. The generic utilization rate is expected to continue to grow over the next few years as a number of blockbuster drugs come off patent through 2015.

While the Hatch-Waxman Act has helped to increase the number of generic alternatives to brand-name drugs, other factors influence whether providers and consumers use generic drugs. For example, third-party payers—including private health insurance plans and public programs such as Medicare— use strategies such as tiered copayments to encourage the use of less expensive drugs within a therapeutic class, which are often generics. Also, perceptions of the safety and efficacy of generic drugs may affect their use. Thus, use of generic drugs—and the savings realized—can vary by payer as well as across therapeutic classes. You asked us to identify research completed on estimates of cost savings from the use of generic drugs in the United States. This report summarizes the findings of peer-reviewed articles, government reports, and studies by national organizations, including trade and nonprofit organizations, on this topic.

For a complete copy of the GAO report, visit: www.gao.gov/assets/590/588064.pdf

Medtipster Sees Growth In Generic Drug Switches With Co-pay Waivers

December 14, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Free Prescriptions, HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

www.Medtipster.com Source: Medtipster Client Data: August 1, 2009 – November 30, 2010

Medtipster.com, working with it’s employer sponsored benefit plan members, found that offering a waiver of generic drug co-payments led to more switches to generics from their brand equivalents and that plan members were more likely to remain on their generic drugs after the switch was made.

The waiver program resulted in savings of about $500,000. to the sponsor and about $750,000. to the plan members during the observation period.

To improve generic dispensing rates, Medtipster offered plan members using brand medications in 40 therapeutic classes up to two co-pay waivers if they switched to a preferred generic drug. Information about the waiver was mailed to plan members, alerting them that all they needed to do was switch within six months of receiving the communication.

Members who took advantage of the waivers early in the six-month period were able to use it twice, while members who acted later in the window were only able to use the waiver once.

The recently enacted health care reform law has a provision in it that will allow Medicare Part D plan sponsors, beginning with the 2011 plan year, to reduce or waive the first co-pay for a generic drug when a plan member switches from its corresponding brand product.

Medtipster examined how many of the plan members remained on the generic drug after receiving one or two co-pay waivers. Findings among the top four therapeutic classes (HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, antihypertensive combinations, proton pump inhibitors and beta blockers cardio-selective) showed that plan members who took advantage of two co-pay waivers had higher generic dispensing rates in the fill immediately after the waivers and had higher sustained GDRs during the months after the generic dispensing conversion program began compared to those only using one waiver.

For example, 94.9 percent of members using beta blockers filled the next prescription with a generic following the use of two waivers, compared to 59.5 percent who used only one waiver. Members who used two waivers had a sustained generic dispensation rate of 89.5 percent, compared to 58.5 percent who only used one waiver.

The drug that showed the highest difference in sustained GDR between the use of two waivers and one waiver was AstraZeneca’s high blood pressure medication Toprol XL (metaprolol succinate), which had sustained GDR of 91.5 percent for members using two waivers, compared to 62.5 percent for members who used only one waiver.

Of the top 10, the drug that had the lowest difference was AstraZeneca’s cholesterol lowering drug Crestor (rosuvastatin), which had a sustained GDR of 82.7 percent for members using two waivers versus 78.1 percent for members who used one waiver.

Generic drugs saved Medicare and beneficiaries $33 billion in 2007

September 16, 2010 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

www.Medtipster.com Source: Associated Press (AP) – 9.16.2010

Generic medications saved the government and Medicare prescription drug plan beneficiaries about $33 billion in 2007, according to a Congressional Budget Office report.

The report, highlighted on Wednesday by the trade group Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, says an additional $14 billion is expected as first-time generics enter the market through 2012. Medicare Part D is Medicare’s prescription drug program.

“This new research highlights the importance of this proven pharmacy benefit management cost-savings tool,” the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association said in a statement. “Tools pioneered by pharmacy benefit managers, including encouraging the use of generic medications, have lowered costs and expanded access to prescription drugs for seniors in Medicare Part D.”

Pharmaceutical Care Management Association is a trade and lobbying group representing pharmacy benefit managers. During the second-quarter of 2010, the group spent $551,889 lobbying the federal government on issues that affect pharmacy benefit managers, including federal reimbursement on pharmacy payments, rebates, and the regulation of imported prescription drugs. Other issues included lobbying for audit reform on pharmacy benefit managers, according to a filing with the House Clerk’s office on July 20.

Pharmacy benefits managers include Medco Health Solutions Inc., based in Franklin Lakes, N.J., which saw a 14 percent jump in second-quarter profit to $356.9 million on a 10 percent boost in revenue to $16.41 billion. Other pharmacy benefit mangers include Express Scripts Inc., based in St. Louis, which saw second-quarter profit surge 50 percent to $289.9 million on a doubling of revenue to $11.29 billion.

Drug Rebates On The Way

May 31, 2010 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medtipster, Prescription News

www.Medtipster.com Source: Los Angeles Times, 5.28.2010

Senior citizens who hit the so-called doughnut hole in Medicare’s drug benefit will begin getting $250 rebate checks in two weeks, the Obama administration announced Thursday — providing one of the first tangible benefits of the recently enacted healthcare law.

The rebates, designed in part to bolster support for the controversial law, are the first steps in a decade-long phase-out of the unpopular gap in Medicare Part D drug coverage.

Seniors now enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan pay 25% of the cost of their prescription drugs until the total bill reaches $2,830. At that point, enrollees must pay the full cost of their prescriptions until their total out-of-pocket spending reaches $4,550. Catastrophic coverage then kicks in and enrollees pay 5% of drug costs for the rest of the year.

Department of Health and Human Services officials said Thursday that the first 80,000 seniors who hit that coverage gap, or “doughnut hole,” will be sent checks on June 10, five days before the deadline.

Checks will then go out monthly until the end of the year as more seniors fall into the gap. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday that the department estimated slightly more than 4 million seniors would ultimately get rebates.

“Seniors do not have to do anything to get this check. They don’t have to sign anything. They don’t have to apply for it,” Sebelius said, warning recipients not to be fooled by scam artists seeking personal information by claiming it is necessary to process rebates.

Starting in 2011, the rebate will be replaced by a discount. Seniors whose expenses fall within the doughnut hole will qualify for a 50% discount on drugs. That will be gradually phased up to a 75% discount in 2020, effectively eliminating the coverage gap.

Thursday’s announcement comes as the Obama administration works to highlight benefits of the new healthcare law in the face of persistent public wariness.

Since President Obama signed the law in March, administration officials have secured commitments from insurance companies to immediately begin offering parents who buy their own insurance the option of including their adult children under 26. Employers who provide coverage may choose to make the option available, but it is not mandatory until October.

The administration is also working with states to create new high-risk pools this summer to allow people who have been denied coverage because of preexisting medical conditions to get insurance. However, there are questions about whether there is enough money to do this.

The new healthcare law’s biggest changes — including the creation of regulated insurance markets, the requirement that everyone have health insurance, and the ban on insurance companies denying coverage to sick people — do not go into effect until 2014.

Prices Rising For Brand-Name Drugs In Coverage Gap

March 18, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Medtipster Source:  The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation – www.kff.org
Medicare Part D 2010 Data Spotlight: Prices for Brand-Name Drugs in the Coverage Gap
This analysis finds prices for some commonly used brand-name drugs rising in 2010 for beneficiaries who reach the coverage gap (or “doughnut hole”), with increases since 2006 far exceeding the growth in inflation.

The Part D benefit’s coverage gap generally requires enrollees to pay the full cost of their drugs after their total drug spending exceeds their initial coverage limit ($2,830 in 2010) until they reach the threshold for receiving catastrophic coverage ($6,440 in 2010).  In 2007, an estimated 3.4 million Part D enrollees reached the coverage gap.

Using data posted on the government’s Medicare.gov website, the analysis looks at prices for commonly used brand-name drugs without a generic substitute for enrollees in stand-alone prescription drug plans.  The prices reflect the amount that enrollees would pay for a 30-day supply after they reach the coverage gap and before catastrophic coverage begins.  

The spotlight is one in a series analyzing key aspects of the Medicare Part D drug plans that will be available to beneficiaries in 2010. These spotlights were prepared by a team of researchers at Georgetown University, NORC and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Find generic equivalants and alternatives for commonly used brand-name drugs at www.medtipster.com.

Medicare Part D – Donut Hole

June 02, 2009 By: PharmaSueAnn Category: Medtipster, Prescription Savings

I used to love those small sweet bites at least until July 2007 came around and my parents were in the donut hole. My parents called – when I arrived a pile of EOBS (explanation of benefits) were given to me. They were in the DONUT HOLE and what was I going to do about it, wanting to be a teenager again and respond “Not My Problem”, it was my problem because I chose the Medicare Part D provider. Ok, so it was my problem. My parents had a fighting chance their daughter was PharmaSue we just did not know that then. I worked with their physician to change medications to drugs on the Four Dollar type lists and they have not been in the donut hole since.

Since I cannot come to each of your homes and work with your doctors personally and I certainly do not want you to be one of the many millions of Medicare Part D beneficiaries that go without medication – I became involved with medtipster so that we can bring this information to you too! Tell your family and friends it is for all of us.

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