The use of generic prescription drugs saved consumers and the U.S. health care system $1 trillion over the past decade with savings totaling $193 billion in 2011, a new study published by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association finds.
The study, conducted by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, found the savings from generic drugs that have entered the market since 2002 continue to increase exponentially, totaling $481 billion over the past 10 years. The introduction of biosimilars is expected to further accelerate the savings. The report notes economic impact studies have pegged the savings from biosimilars at between $42 billion and $108 billion over the first 10 years of the biosimilar market formation.
“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,” says Ralph Neas, president and CEO of Generic Pharmaceutical Association. “The sustainability of the health care system and the national economy depend in significant measure on the availability of affordable medicines.”
In 2011, the report found savings increased 22% over the previous year as nearly 80%of the four billion prescriptions written in the U.S. were dispensed using generic medicines, while accounting for only 27% of the total drug spending. Generic versions of central nervous system drugs, such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants, and cardiovascular drugs account for 57% of the annual savings.
The report notes the pressure on Congress and state legislatures to find ways to rein in health care spending and argues generic drugs represent an important source of savings.
“With policymakers being forced every day to make difficult choices pertaining to spending and deficits, it is imperative that the savings available through generic use be recognized,” the report says. “Policies that encourage generic dispensing and steer clear of unwarranted restrictions on generic use can bring even greater savings to U.S consumers, patients, health care providers and payers.”