Published Online: Saturday, September 1, 2007

As brand name blockbusters come off patent, a surge of generic drugs is expected to drive down how much Americans spend on prescription-drug costs, according to a report in the New York Times. At present, US patients spend $275 billion a year on prescription drugs.

Over the next 5 years, however, experts predict that generic drugs will experience a boom as patents on $60 billion worth of brand name drugs begin to expire.

Even though the aging American public is using more medicines, and new medicines are still entering the market each year, the ascent of generics has been central to hindering increases in spending for prescription drugs as a whole. Analysts who follow major generic players such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Barr Pharmaceuticals forecast a 10% to 13% annual growth in profit for the generic industry by 2010.

This year alone, patients have switched to generic versions of 5 major medicines. Experts stated that generic drugs will keep drug-price inflation in the single digits for the next several years, ending the double-digit trend that began in the early 1990s when many drugs were first introduced.

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