BUSINESSES SUPPORT GENERIC USE FOR EMPLOYEES
More businesses are striving to get their employees to use genericdrugs in order to keep of those overall health insurance costsdown. With prices as low as 80% of those of brand name medicines,generics have become a significant means by which health insurersand companies hope to stave off rising medical costs. Some companies,such as smaller ones that use Blue Cross and Blue Shield ofMinnesota, have stopped charging any out-of-pocket cost or copaymentsto patients who use generic medicines. Other companies aretaking on insurance plans that cover only generic drugs, such as anew prescription drug plan from Medco Health Solutions Inc.
Some are trying to steer employees toward certain brand namedrugs that will soon go off patent and become available as genericsin the near future. Over the past year, 4 of the largest blockbustermedicines have gone generic, and patents for at least 11 more areexpected to run out in the next 2 years. John Malley, a senior pharmacybenefits consultant with employee-benefits group WatsonWyatt Worldwide, said, "In 20 years, we've never had an opportunitylike this, in terms of so many generics available in such a broad numberof therapeutic categories."