Americans spend 275 billion dollars on prescription medicines every single year, sixty percent of it on generics. But in the next five years, the twenty-year patents are going to expire on enough brand-name medicines to account for about 60 billion dollars of that total. And the generics that spring up to replace those drugs will be thirty to eighty percent cheaper.
It’s good news for everyone who takes medicine, except maybe for the 22 percent who don’t trust generics to be as good as brand names. Perhaps they’re equating generic drugs to knock-offs of other products, like clothing, which may not measure up to the original name brand. But when it comes to drugs, it’s important to remember that the FDA makes sure that generics meet the same quality standards as the brand names. They’re just as good, so you may as well save the money.
Source: The New York Times
Editor’s Note: My health plan charges me a larger co-pay for my insulin, Levemir and Novolog, even though no generic insulins yet exist. Their policy of charging a premium for a brand name even when a generic isn’t available does not seem quite kosher. Let’s hope that generic insulins make it to the market soon. (For more on that possibility, see “Why Does Insulin Cost More Than Ever? It’s All In The Way It’s Made”, May 2007.)