Published Online: Monday, May 1, 2006

In April of this year, Aetna launched a 6-month pilot program in the New Jersey area that waives copays for fully insured members changing from brand name proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to generics to treat heartburn or similar symptoms.

Commercial plan members currently filling prescriptions for certain brand name PPIs are eligible for the copay waiver if they switch their therapy to omeprazole 20 mg. The free copay program is part of an aggressive effort by Aetna Pharmacy Management (APM) to encourage patients to use generic drugs where appropriate and with their physician's approval. The switch to generics can help employers and employees save on the rising cost of prescription medications.

"There is a tremendous opportunity to help consumers and employers save by increasing appropriate utilization of generic drugs, and this program seeks to raise awareness of savings through generics," said Eric Elliott, head of APM. "The message of this program is simple: If generic drugs are prescribed whenever appropriate, health care costs can be responsibly controlled without any adverse impact on the quality of care."

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