New Study Finds Use of Generic Prescription Drugs Saved Consumers and the U.S. Health Care System $1 Trillion over Past Decade

Published Online: Tuesday, August 7, 2012
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PRESS RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AUG. 2, 2012) – The Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) today released an independently conducted analysis showing that the savings to consumers and the U.S. health care system from the use of generic prescription drugs has risen to a current rate of $1 billion every other day — totaling $193 billion in 2011 and more than $1 trillion over the last 10 years (2002-2011).

The Generic Drug Savings study was conducted for GPhA by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, a division of IMS Health that has been a leading provider of market intelligence to the health care industry for more than 55 years.

“The remarkable findings demonstrated in this report are a testament not only to the generic industry‚Äüs tremendous accomplishments over the past decade, but to the even greater achievements that are still to come,” said Ralph G. Neas, President and CEO of GPhA. “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. The sustainability of the health care system and the national economy depend in significant measure on the availability of affordable medicines.”

Other findings of the Generic Drug Savings study show:

  • Savings from generics in 2011 increased 22 percent over the prior year, marking the largest year-over-year increase since 1998, and 10 percentage points higher than the 10-year average.
  • 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 percent of the annual savings.
  • In 2011, nearly 80 percent of the 4 billion prescriptions written in the U.S. were dispensed using generic medicines, while accounting for only 27 percent of the total drug spending.

Even with these remarkable savings provided by generics, the innovation of new medicines has not slowed. Since the implementation of the Hatch-Waxman Act in 1984, there has been a multiple-fold increase in the innovation of new medicines, including the cholesterol drugs Lipitor® and Zocor®, the antidepressants Prozac® and Paxil®, and the blood thinner Plavix® to name a few. By creating a fair balance between innovation of new medicines and accessibility to lower-cost generic medicines, federal law has established a win-win for providers and American consumers.

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