Medicare beneficiaries who chooselower-cost generic alternatives to treat avariety of major health disorders couldsave between $2300 and $5000 per yearon their prescription drug costs, accordingto a new analysis by ConsumersUnion. The biggest savings would accruefor patients who switch from high-pricedbranded drugs to lower-cost generics totreat high cholesterol, depression, arthritisand post-heart attack pain, and highblood pressure. Even those enrolled inthe new Medicare Part D prescriptiondrug program could reap significant savings,because choosing lower-cost genericalternatives could delay or eliminatethe gap in Medicare Part D coverageknown as the "doughnut hole."
These savings could also benefit othertaxpayers. For example, if all Medicarebeneficiaries taking statin drugs to lowercholesterol switched to generics, the savingsfor taxpayers could be about $8 billiona year starting in 2007, or up to 10% of theMedicare drug plan's estimated overallexpenditures over the next decade.