Choosing Generics

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More generics, more savings

Over the next few years, generic versions of several top-selling brand medications are expected to become available, further expanding patient access to affordable generics. Here are the latest new generic drugs that may already be available at your pharmacy or will be in the near future.

choose affordable medicine

Generics drugs are a great value. In the U.S., they can be, on average, 80-85% less expensive than the brand drug. Use of generic drugs instead of the brand equivalent has reduced the costs for drugs in the American health care system by more than $931 billion over the past decade, and $158 billion in 2010 alone.

Why generic drugs cost less

Generic drug makers are able to offer such value because they are not required by the FDA to replicate the extensive clinical trials used in the development of the original brand drug. Generic drug companies also spend far less than brand drug companies on sales, advertising and promotion. The associated savings are substantial and are passed along to you in the form of lower prices.

Cost of brand medications continue to rise

A recent study by AARP’s Public Policy Institute found that the retail prices for brand name drugs used by Medicare beneficiaries have, on average, increased substantially. The retail prices of the 207 most widely used prescription drug products that have been on the market since the end of 2004 have increased on average by 41.5% from 2005 to 2009. For the average senior taking drugs for chronic conditions, the annual cost for one brand name medication was about $1,400 in 2009.

Generics' positive economic impact

During challenging economic times, people are even more conscious of how certain choices affect their spending. With the cost of brand drugs rising, more and more consumers are choosing to take generic medications as a way to reduce health care spending. Generic drugs accounted for 78% of all dispensed prescriptions in 2010, up from 57% in 2004.

According to a recent analysis of the U.S. pharmaceutical market, the recent recession has increased consumer participation in making decisions about prescription drugs. Consumers are more price sensitive toward medications, particularly brand drugs. In 2009, 8.6% of new prescriptions for brand drug products were not picked up at the pharmacy, up 23% from 2008 and up 68% since 2006.

A nationally representative Consumer Reports* poll conducted in August 2011 found that consumers are taking steps, many of them risky, to better afford their medications. In 2011, almost half (48%) of the population taking at least one prescription drug took some action to reduce their medication costs – up by 9% since 2010. As reported in this poll, the most common actions taken to save money on medications were:

  • Failing to fill a prescription (16% overall, 30% among those with a monthly drug bill in excess of $50)
  • Taking an expired medication (13%)
  • Skipping a scheduled dose of a prescribed medication, not at the physician’s or pharmacist’s direction (12%)
  • Cutting prescribed pills in half, not at the physician’s or pharmacist’s direction (8%)
  • Sharing a prescription with someone else (4%)

These statistics demonstrate the influence of price in making important decisions about medication. Filling a new prescription or refilling an already existing prescription with generics whenever possible is one of the best ways to reduce health care costs. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if taking the generic is right for you. Read Act Now, Start Talking to help get the conversation started.

*Consumer Reports is not responsible for or affiliated with this website, and does not sponsor, recommend or support this website.

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