The savings to consumers and the U.S. health care system from the use of generic prescription drugs has climbed to a rate of $1 billion every other day, according to a study from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA).


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Generics saved $1 trillion over past decade, GPhA study finds

August 3rd, 2012

WASHINGTON – The savings to consumers and the U.S. health care system from the use of generic prescription drugs has climbed to a rate of $1 billion every other day, according to a study from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA).

The independent analysis, conducted for GPhA by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, a division of IMS Health, said the generic drug savings totaled $193 billion last year and more than $1 trillion from 2002 to 2011.

Last year, in particular, was a watershed for generic medications, the study found. Savings from generics in 2011 jumped 22% over the prior year, marking the largest year-over-year increase since 1998, and the savings was 10 percentage points higher than the 10-year average, GPhA noted.

"The Generic Drug Savings study shows conclusively that, as Congress and the White House gear up for the fiscal challenges facing them in the coming year, generic and biosimilar utilization are the best places to go for the 'offsets' that everyone will be desperately seeking," GPhA president and chief executive officer Ralph Neas said in a statement. "The sustainability of the health care system and the national economy depend in significant measure on the availability of affordable medicines.”

Other key findings of the Generic Drug Savings study include the following:

• Savings from newer generic medicines — those that have entered the market since 2002 — continue to increase exponentially, totaling $481 billion over the past 10 years.

• Generic versions of central nervous system drugs, such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants, and cardiovascular drugs account for 57% of the annual savings.

• In 2011, nearly 80% of the 4 billion prescriptions written in the United States were dispensed using generic medicines, while accounting for only 27%  of the total drug spending.

GPhA added that the innovation of new generic medicines has not slowed. Since the implementation of the Hatch-Waxman Act in 1984, there has been a surge of new generic alternatives, including for the cholesterol drugs Lipitor and Zocor, the antidepressants Prozac and Paxil, and the blood thinner Plavix, among others, the association said.

"The remarkable findings demonstrated in this report are a testament not only to the generic industry's tremendous accomplishments over the past decade, but to the even greater achievements that are still to come," Neas commented.

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