Medicare Chief Pushes Generics as Solution to High Rx Prices

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

A top administration health officialhas called on the nation's communitypharmacies to help spread the wordabout the savings available to olderpatients who take advantage of lower-costgeneric drugs.

In an address to the National Associationof Chain Drug Stores Pharmacyand Technology Conference, Centers forMedicare and Medicaid Services AdministratorMark McClellan told chain execsthat "it is extremely important for us tomake sure seniors know about the availabilityof generics and the savings theycan get from using them."

Although there have been concernsabout the safety of generics in the past,McClellan assured chain pharmacyleaders that this is no longer the case.

When generics are "approved andregulated by the FDA, they are just assafe as the more expensive brandnamed versions and just as effective aswell," he said.

This message, however, is not gettingacross to the nation's elderly, theMedicare chief said.

"While more than half of all prescriptionsin the United States are nowfilled by generics, studies show thatMedicare beneficiaries have been lesslikely than other Americans to takeadvantage of their lower cost and highquality," he told the chains. "We needto make sure that beneficiaries havethe information they need to make aninformed choice and to start gettingthose savings in many, many cases."

In urging community pharmaciesto use the government's new Rx discountcard program to promote genericdrugs to seniors, McClellan told drugstoreindustry leaders that thegovernment is "trying to help you providethe needed patient education bysupplying specific information aboutgeneric drugs whenever they are availableand the savings that people canget from using them."