Tonawanda News

Features

April 22, 2013

Vienne: Ask a simple question about prescription drugs, save big

If we each ask our doctor or pharmacist one simple question, health care spending in our region can be reduced by more than $400 million annually: “Is there a generic alternative that’s right for me?”

Generics offer significant savings to consumers, both in terms of lower copays and lower retail prices for those who pay out-of-pocket or from a health savings account.

Upstate New Yorkers could see more than $196 million in annualized savings as 14 brand-name prescription drugs become available in their generic form during 2013 and an additional $250 million in savings after 23 more generics become available in 2014.

Generics are approved by the Food and Drug Administration as being as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts.

Leading the list of new generics that offer the greatest savings opportunities are Diovan for treatment of high blood pressure and Cymbalta for a variety of conditions including depression, pain and fibromyalgia.

Upstate New York’s 39,000 Diovan users spend about $48 million annually for the drug. The retail cost for a 30-day supply of Diovan is about $125. Scheduled to become available this spring, generic versions are projected to be priced as low as $25 for a 30-day supply once they become widely available (prices vary by pharmacy). The potential annual savings for Diovan users in upstate New York is $38 million.

Upstate New York’s 40,000 Cymbalta users spend about $98 million annually for the drug. The retail cost for a 30-day supply of Cymbalta is about $275. The price for the generic is expected to be about $55 once it becomes widely available after its release in December. The potential annual savings in upstate New York is $78 million.

More than 126,000 upstate New Yorkers use the 14 brand-name drugs that are scheduled to become available as generics during 2013. In 2014, an additional 23 brand-name drugs are scheduled to become available in their generic form, representing potential savings of $250 million across upstate New York.

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