Published Online: Sunday, April 1, 2007

New government data suggest that American consumers are warming up to generic pharmaceuticals as a key strategy for holding down their medication costs. The data, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), concluded that generic use is especially high among seniors in the new Medicare drug benefit. According to CMS, cheaper generics accounted for nearly 60% of the drugs dispensed to people in Medicare Part D plans during the first 9 months of 2006.

Representatives of the nation's pharmacy benefit managers quickly took credit for the growing generic usage, noting that the CMS information "underscores the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in expanding access to lower-cost, clinically proven prescription drugs." In a statement responding to the new generic use figures, officials at the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said that the "high generic dispensing rate in Medicare Part D—after only 1 year—is a testament to the collaborative efforts of patients, clinicians, PBMs, and policy makers to expand access to clinically proven, cost-effective prescription drugs."

Indeed, PCMA said, the "increased generic-drug utilization is helping to keep Part D premiums and program costs lower than originally forecast and is helping to prevent seniors from falling into the ‘doughnut hole'coverage gap."

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