SENATE EYES PART D "GENERICS FIRST" BILL
Pharmacists would berequired to fill Medicare Part Dprescriptions with a genericproduct unless the brandname drug is determined tobe "medically necessary,"under new legislation beingconsidered in the Senate. Thebill, sponsored by Sen HerbKohl (D, Wisc), was modeledafter similar provisions inmany state-administered Medicaidprograms.
Under Kohl's proposed Generics First Act, seniors would beguided "toward cost-saving generic drug alternatives" in hopesof reducing costs for both taxpayers and Medicare recipients."We know generic drugs have the potential to save seniorsthousands of dollars and curb health spending for the federalgovernment, employers, and families," Kohl told Congress."Generics, which on average cost 63% less than their brandname counterparts, are a big part of the solution to health carecosts that are spiraling out of control," Kohl said. He said he wasencouraged to introduce the pro-generic legislation after hearing"some remarkable success stories from some who haveturned to generic drugs."
During last year's hearings before the Senate SpecialCommittee on Aging, "General Motors (GM) testified that, in2005, they spent $1.9 billion on prescription drugs, 40% of theirtotal health care spending," Kohl told the Senate. "Their programto use generics first, when a generic drug is available, saves GMnearly $400 million a year."