Finds Americans Know Little About Generic Prescriptions
A new survey by Prescription Solutions, a pharmacy
benefit management organization under UnitedHealth Group, found that
many Americans still have limited understanding when it comes to the
cost, ingredients and effectiveness of generic drugs.
The study also confirmed that the current economic
crisis is affecting consumer prescription drug use, said Prescription
The use of generic drugs has saved the healthcare
system $734 billion over the past decade.
Dr. Jacqueline Kosecoff, chief executive officer
Prescription Solutions, said, "Using generics helps make healthcare
more affordable without compromising results. Many Americans
erroneously believe that the most expensive drug is always the most
effective drug, so by helping to change perceptions, we can help people
save money and still get the best treatment available."
Among the key findings of the Prescription
- Nearly one-third of Americans do not know or
that generics have the same active ingredients and effectiveness as
brand name drugs.
- Two-thirds of those surveyed do not understand
true cost differences between brand name drugs and generics. Only 31
percent of survey respondents indicated they knew that a brand name
drug cost 50-70 percent more on average than its generic counterpart.
- 71 percent of consumers remain concerned about
costs – with more than one in four (27 percent) having either
delayed filling, not filled, or not taken as directed a prescription
drug in order to save money. Further, 21 percent of all respondents say
they have talked to their doctor recently about switching to a less
- 57 percent of those polled said they take
prescription drugs on a weekly basis. Of those who do so, 83 percent
(or 47 percent of the total sample) take generics. Further, among those
who take generics, 82 percent say they do so because of the lower cost.
- Of those who do not take generic drugs on a
basis, 58 percent say it is because there is no generic available for
the drug they need.
- Doctors and pharmacists are key influencers in
encouraging the use of generics. Of those surveyed who take generic
drugs on a weekly basis, 64 percent say their doctor recommended
generics and 43 percent say their pharmacist recommended them.
- Of those who do not take generic drugs on a
basis, 58 percent say they would if their pharmacist brought a generic
to their attention as a less expensive, identical substitute; and 52
percent say their doctor would have to recommend it.
Taken together, these survey findings demonstrate
need to further educate consumers about the differences between brand
name and generic drugs and the potential value of generic drug use;
and, doctors and pharmacists have a major role to play in this effort,
Prescription Solutions said.
As the nation looks at how to rein in healthcare
costs without sacrificing quality, generic drugs are a proven resource.
However, biologic drugs, also known as specialty
are becoming the costliest, but most popular area of pharmaceuticals,
expected to grow from a $40 billion market in 2005 to more than $90
billion estimated by the end of this year.
However, there are currently no "generic"
alternatives for specialty drugs.
"Biologic drugs can cost tens of thousands of
year for a single person’s treatment needs. A regulatory
pathway for follow-on versions of these biologic drugs – or
‘biosimilars’ – must be created by
Congress in order
for patients, the government and U.S. businesses to afford them,"
Prescription Solutions has found that when
generics regularly, it lowers the cost of insurance and helps keep
premiums lower in the long run.
According to company data, a 1 percent increase in
generics utilization by consumers translates into 1.7 percent in total
cost savings for payers like employers.
Equally important, Prescription Solutions has
that, while results vary depending on the plan design, members enrolled
in its prescription drug plans typically save $20 to over $60 per
prescription when switching from a brand to a generic drug.
"At a time when rising costs are taking an
toll on many American families, especially during the economic crisis,
Prescription Solutions is working to ensure consumers have access to
lower-priced generic drugs," said Kosecoff.
The company offers money-saving programs to
influence and reward the use of generic drugs among customers.
For example, Presription Solutions partnered with
clients and customers to help pioneer zero-dollar co-pays for generics
ordered through its mail service for seniors in Medicare Part D plans.
Among other programs, the company provides
education, including cost-saving tips and information on lower-cost
alternative medications for patients to discuss with their doctors and
The national telephone poll was conducted by
Opinion Research Corp.on behalf of Prescription Solutions.
The national probability sample included 1,000
(500 men and 500 women), 18 years of age and older, and living in
private households in the continental United States.
Address: Prescription Solutions, P.O. Box 509075,
San Diego, CA 92150; (800) 788-4863, www.prescriptionsolutions.com.