The high cost of many common drugs is about to get cheaper.
Some of the top-selling prescription medications will lose their patent protection during the next few years, meaning generic versions will be allowed to enter the market and compete for your business.
Within six months of a drug losing its patent, 80% of patients begin using its generic form. According to the IMS Institute’s most recent annual report, the average co-pays for generic drugs in 2010 were just over $6 as compared with nearly $24 for brand-name medications. That represents a huge potential savings for consumers.
In the same report, the IMS claims that because consumers are shifting to generic drugs in big numbers, the average patient co-pay for prescription medications dropped by 20 cents between 2009 and 2010. The expectation is that this trend will grow as more drugs lose their patent protection.
Bye, Bye Patent
So which drugs can you soon expect to see in generic form? Cholesterol lowering Lipitor; the anti-biotic Levaquin; Concerta, which treats symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Protonix for the treatment of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and Zyprexa, which is used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, all go off patent this year.
In 2012, the antidepressant Lexapro; Viagra for erectile dysfunction; Plavix, which prevents blood clots; and asthma medication Singulair are just a few of those losing their patents. For a full list you can see this report from market research firm, EvaluatePharma.
The Push for Generics
You can be sure that if you use one of the medications losing its patent protection, your insurance company will press for you to switch to generic.
Generics are a great way to save money on medications, as I’ve discussed on this blog before. Still, for a host of reasons, not everyone feels comfortable using them over the brand-name drugs.
What’s your take? Are generic medications a positive for consumers?
Got a health insurance question? Post it below. I’ll respond in this blog each Thursday to as many of your questions as I can.
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EvaluatePharma: “Patent storm gathering strength.”
IMS Institute: “The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2010.”
National Library of Medicine.