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