Most Popular Generics Decreased in Price During 2015

Pharmacy Times, February 2016 Autoimmune Disorders, Volume 82, Issue 2

Although generic drug pricing was a hot-button political issue throughout 2015, not every drug saw a price increase last year.

Generic drug pricing was a hot-button political issue throughout 2015. However, it is important to note that not every drug saw a price increase in 2015, despite widespread media coverage suggesting otherwise.

Much of the national drugpricing debate last year centered on steep cost increases, including Daraprim’s infamous 5000% overnight price hike under former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli. Adding to this fervor was an announcement by the government in December that between the Affordable Care Act and rising medication prices, health care spending reached $3 trillion in 2014.

It is important to note, however, that the year was not all bad news for Americans filling prescriptions. Several sources have exposed evidence that most drugs actually decreased in price during 2015. An analysis from the prescription drug cost comparison site GoodRx reveals that 30 of the 50 most common generic drugs had decreased in price by the end of 2015. The conditions treated by these common generics run the gamut from mental health to heart problems to allergies and asthma.

Five examples of popular generics that decreased in price last year follow:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac): Fluoxetine, which is indicated to treat depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, decreased 30.4% in price last year. The drug costs an average of $5 for a 30-day supply.
  • Montelukast (Singulair): Montelukast, which is indicated to treat chronic asthma, decreased 19.9% in price during 2015. The drug costs an average of $18 for a 30-day supply.
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta): Duloxetine, which is indicated to treat major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, decreased 10.4% in price last year. The drug costs an average of $38 for a 30-day supply.
  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor): Atorvastatin, which is indicated to treat high cholesterol, decreased 8.2% in price during 2015. The drug costs an average of $13 for a 30-day supply.
  • Losartan (Cozaar): Losartan, which is indicated to treat high blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke, decreased 4.8% in price during 2015. The drug costs an average of $9 for a 30-day supply.

GoodRx’s analysis is in line with other reports that found decreased generic drug prices. In the latest iteration of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ National Health Expenditure report, the agency notes that the rising use of generic drugs has resulted in “historically low rates of prescription drug spending” in recent years. An AARP report similarly found that the cost of generic drugs fell overall between 2006 and 2013.

In addition, generic versions of several major brand name drugs became available in 2015, which likely means prescription drug spending could continue to decrease. Androgel (testosterone), Nexium (esomeprazole), Abilify (aripiprazole), Copaxone (glatopa), Namenda (memantine), and several others lost patent protection throughout 2015.

The following popular drugs are scheduled to go generic in 2016: high-cholesterol drug Crestor (rosuvastatin), chemotherapy drug Gleevec (imatinib), and sleep disorder drug Nuvigil (armodafinil). Although these important drugs have already decreased in price, or are projected to decrease, Americans are still paying more out-of-pocket each year for health costs in general. Between increased premiums and deductibles, private health spending is projected to increase by an average of 5.4% annually between 2016 and 2024.