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Home / News & IndustryManaged Care Insight and Analysis
Updated: April 21, 2009
Dramatic Gains In Upstate New York’s Generic Drug Prescribing Patterns

The number of upstate New York physicians prescribing high rates of generic versus brand-name drugs has risen dramatically during the past year, according to a new report issued by Excellus BlueCrossBlueShield (BCBS).

A second report issued by the health plan shows that some of the savings achieved through the growth in generic prescribing patterns is offset by another trend that reveals the average costs of brand-name drugs have risen more than 80 percent during the past five years and nearly 16 percent in the past year.

Generic medicine costs on average rose less than 11 percent over the past five years and less than 1 percent from a year ago.

According to the first report, the percentage of physicians across upstate New York who have generic fill rates of at least 70 percent has nearly doubled from the second quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of 2008, from 28.4 percent to 56.3 percent.

A generic fill rate is the percentage of all prescriptions that are filled with a generic drug. Generic fill rates vary by region, with the highest rates found in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions, where three-tier prescription drug benefit designs are more common. Three-tier benefit designs give consumers a choice between using low-cost generics and more expensive brand-name drugs. The use of generics has, however, increased significantly across all regions.

"We believe the change in prescribing patterns reflects not only the increased availability of generics but a growing body of medical literature that shows lower cost generics may contribute to higher patient compliance rates, which can improve outcomes," said Dr. Martin Lustick, senior vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Excellus BCBS. "As price hikes for brand-name drugs continue to outpace inflation, doctors and patients are increasingly turning to generics as safe and effective alternatives."

The second report highlights that the average prescription cost for a 30-day supply of generic medicine was $17.43 in June 2003 and was $19.26 five years later. The average cost for a 30-day supply of brand-name drugs went from $87.45 to $159.06 during the same time period.

Generic prescriptions as a percent of all prescriptions written gained ground. In 2003, brand-name drugs represented 52.9 percent of all prescriptions written, but this spring, they represented 32.5 percent of total prescriptions, according to the Excellus BCBS analysis.

Address: Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, 165 Court St., Rochester, NY 14647; (585) 454-1700,

  This article was taken from:
The Executive Report on Managed Care

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