Published Online: Monday, May 1, 2006

The flurry of high-profile generic drug introductions scheduled to hit the market over the next 5 years could produce savings of >$23 billion for the new Medicare Part D drug benefit, according to a new analysis by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA).

The group examined the top 100 drugs used by seniors to develop a "conservative estimate" of potential Medicare cost savings. According to the analysis, 14 of those top 100 drugs are slated to experience generic competition by 2010, including branded medicines commonly used by seniors to treat conditions such as high cholesterol, depression, heart disease, and hypertension.

"As soon as drugs become available in generic form, health plans and pharmacy benefit managers work collaboratively with patients, physicians, pharmacists, and payers to increase awareness about generic alternatives and potential cost savings," said the PCMA.

During this year alone, 4 drugs commonly used by seniors—sertraline (Zoloft), simvastatin (Zocor), pravastatin sodium (Pravachol), and finasteride (Proscar)—are expected to go off patent or lose exclusivity and face generic competition, a change expected to result in savings of $1.5 billion in 2006 and $13 billion over the entire 2006-2010 period, according to the analysis.

Next year, an additional 7 drugs commonly used by seniors are expected to go generic, producing savings of nearly $700 million in 2007 and $7 billion during the 2007-2010 period, said the report. Among the drugs scheduled to lose patent protection in 2007 are amlodipine besylate (Norvasc), zolpidem tartrate (Ambien), cetirizine (Zyrtec), amlodipine and benazepril (Lotrel), carvedilol (Coreg), terbinafine hydrochloride (Lamisil), and gatifloxacin (Tequin).

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