When you pick up a prescription, you may receive a generic version of the medication. These drugs contain the same ingredients as the brand name medication, but often cost less. In fact, patients saved $227 billion in 2015 by using generic medication, according to a report by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA).
Generics made up 89 percent of prescriptions dispensed, but only 27 percent of drug costs in 2015, the report states.
Generic medication saved $227 billion in 2015
What’s the price difference between brand drugs and generics? Brand drugs made up 11 percent of prescriptions in the United States, but accounted for 73 percent of drug spending, according to the GPhA’s study.
Generics work just as well, cost less
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires generic drugs to be created with the same active ingredient and dosage as its brand name counterpart, according to John Moore, DO, FAAFP, Aetna’s medical director for the U.S. Northeast Region.
Brand drugs made up 11 percent of prescriptions in 2015, but accounted for 73 percent of drug spending
“Generics are equally effective as brand drugs,” Moore said, “and provide a much better choice financially for the patient who needs them.”
The highest levels of savings in 2015 were from generics in treating mental health, hypertension, cholesterol and ulcers, according to the GPhA report.
Generic savings also impacted Medicare and Medicaid programs in 2015, saving $67.6 billion and $32.7 billion, respectively.
Cost savings can result in better compliance
The copay for a brand drug will generally be higher than a generic, Moore said. The savings can help with a generic can help with medication adherence, Moore added.
“A brand drug with high co-pay can lead a patient to not taking the drug as regularly as they should be due to financial pressures and attempts to stretch out a costly supply of a brand medication,” Moore said. “The generic version of a brand drug allows for better compliance due to a more tolerable monthly expense for the needed medication.”
While there are few instances when a brand name drug is prescribed to a patient, Moore emphasized that generics usually “are the way to go.”
“Generics are super reliable; they are the same medication and they can save you tons of money.”