GPhA Comments on JAMA Internal Medicine National Survey of Physicians

Published Online: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
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Study Concludes Public Bares ‘Unnecessary Expense’ When Generics Are Not Used

WASHINGTON, D.C. (JANUARY 8, 2013) – The Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) today issued the following statement regarding a national survey of the prescribing behaviors of physicians and published January 7, 2013, in JAMA Internal Medicine (formerly Archives of Internal Medicine).

“The JAMA Internal Medicine study demonstrates that we are still leaving savings on the table that could be achieved by increasing the use of generic drugs. The use of safe and effective generic versions of brand name drugs currently saves consumers and the U.S. healthcare system $1 billion every other day, a total of $192 billion in 2011. But, as significant as these savings are, there still is room for improvement and we must realize that generics are part of the solution to sustaining affordable healthcare in America,” said GPhA President and CEO Ralph G. Neas.

The survey concluded that prescribing brand-name drugs when generic drugs are available “generates unnecessary medical expenditures, the costs of which are borne by the public in the form of higher copayments, increased health insurance costs, and higher Medicare and Medicaid expenses.” Prescribing a brand-name drug when a generic is available “is a huge source of wasteful spending that can be prevented,” says Eric Campbell, Ph.D., professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and team leader of the study.

Results of the survey revealed that about four in 10 doctors “sometimes or often” prescribe a brand-name drug when a less costly generic version of the drug is available just because their patients requested the brand drug. The study also found that brand industry gifting (such as free food or beverage) and drugs samples “increase the likelihood that physicians will prescribe a brand name.”

“Nearly 80 percent of the 4 billion prescriptions written in the U.S. last year were filled using safe and effective generic versions of their brand name counterpart drugs,” Neas said. “This means that millions of consumers, including many seniors on fixed incomes, were able to purchase the medicines they need to live longer, healthier lives without having to give up other necessities,” he added.

“As the new Congress continues its work on the debt and deficit, we urge that Members reject any legislative proposal that could lessen the timely availability of affordable generics. This includes saying ‘no’ to any proposal that would restrict the right of drug manufacturers to settle patent litigation out of court, which has proven to be the one sure way of bringing generics to market prior to brand drug patent expiration,” Neas said. He added that initiatives to promote generic use in Medicare and Medicaid and to reduce the market exclusivity period for biologics from 12 years to seven, would generate significant additional savings for taxpayers and the government.

  • Read the JAMA Internal Medicine study here
  • Additional information on the savings generated by patent settlements here
  • 2012 Generic Savings Study here
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