Generics Save Patients Money

Generic SupplementsGeneric Supplement 2019

In 2018, the drugs generated $293 billion in savings, based on a recent AAM report.

Access to generics is playing a large role in saving patients money at the pharmacy counter. In 2018 alone, generics generated $293 billion in savings, according to a blog based on a recently issued report from the Association for Accessible Medicines [AAM].1

The 11th annual edition of AAM’s Savings and Access Report “quantifies how much money American patients and our health care system are saving because of generic and biosimilar alternatives to brand-name prescription and biologic medications.”

Savings for Medicaid and Medicare alone totaled $46.8 billion and $90.3 billion, respectively.

In 2018, generics accounted for 9 of every 10 prescriptions filled in the United States, and 95.3% of these prescriptions were filled at $20 or less. Overall, there were 4 billion generic prescriptions filled in 2018.

Savings by state averaged $5.7 billion, ranging from $399 million in Alaska to $26.1 billion in California.

The AAM annual report was issued within days of FDA officials announcing the approval of 9 generics for Pfizer’s Lyrica. In July, the FDA approved 9 generics for Lyrica to Alembic Pharmaceuticals, Alkem Laboratories, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, InvaGen Pharmaceuticals, MSN Laboratories Ltd, Rising Pharmaceuticals Inc, Sciegen Pharmaceuticals Inc, and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

In a statement, the agency said that its approval of generics for Lyrica feeds into its goal of improving patient access to more affordable medicines, as part of the overall Drug Competition Action Plan.

According to a study tracking drug price changes between 2012 and 2017, Lyrica was one of 17 drugs (35% of those included in the study) that more than doubled in cost during that period of time.2

“Over the last decade alone, competition from safe and effective generic drugs has saved the health care system about $1.67 trillion,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a 2017 statement about the agency’s Drug Competition Action Plan.

“When generics are dispensed at the pharmacy, the immediate savings to each of us are clear,” he said at the time. “We could see even greater cost savings if we helped more safe and effective generic drugs get to market sooner, after patent and statutory exclusivity periods have lapsed, by addressing some of the scientific and regulatory obstacles to generic competition across the full range of FDA-approved drugs.”3

The gradual introduction of biosimilars to the market has provided yet another outlet for prescription cost savings. In the 9 years since the passage of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA), 23 biosimilars have been approved, and 9 are on the market.

With biologics often coming with hefty price tags, “biosimilars could lead to more than $54 billion in savings over the next 10 years, giving 1.2 million patients access to needed medicines,” according to the blog.


  • Association for Accessible Medicines Savings and Access Report [blog]. Washington, D.C. AAM website. July 30, 2019. 1547508550.1565172058. Accessed August 7, 2019.
  • Wineinger NE, Zhang Y, Topol EJ. Trends in prices of popular brand-name prescription drugs in the United States. 2019;2(5). doi:10.1001/jammanetworkopen.2019.4791.
  • FDA working to lift barriers to generic drug competition. June 21, 2019: FDA website. Accessed July 29, 2019.

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