Jennifer S. Haas, MD, MSPH; Kathryn A. Phillips, PhD; Eric P. Gerstenberger, MS; Andrew C. Seger, PharmD
Acknowledgments: The authors thank Jaylyn Olivo for editorial assistance and Dr. Michael Fischer for comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.
Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Requests for Single Reprints: Jennifer S. Haas, MD, MSPH, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, 1620 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02120; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author Contributions: Conception and design: J.S. Haas, K.A. Phillips.
Analysis and interpretation of the data: J.S. Haas, K.A. Phillips, E.P. Gerstenberger, A.C. Seger.
Drafting of the article: J.S. Haas.
Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: K.A. Phillips, A.C. Seger.
Final approval of the article: J.S. Haas, K.A. Phillips, E.P. Gerstenberger, A.C. Seger.
Provision of study materials or patients: J.S. Haas.
Statistical expertise: J.S. Haas, E.P. Gerstenberger.
Obtaining of funding: J.S. Haas, K.A. Phillips.
Administrative, technical, or logistic support: J.S. Haas.
Collection and assembly of data: J.S. Haas, K.A. Phillips.
Current Author Addresses: Drs. Haas and Seger and Mr. Gerstenberger: Brigham and Women's Hospital, Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, 1620 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02120.
Dr. Phillips: Box 0613, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143.
Generic substitution is one mechanism of curtailing prescription drug expenditures. Limited information is available about the potential savings associated with generic substitution.
To estimate the potential savings associated with broad substitution of generic drugs.
Cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of noninstitutionalized adults.
Adults included in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component, 1997–2000.
Use of a multisource drug (that is, a drug available in a brand-name and ≥1 generic formulation) or a generic drug and the potential cost savings associated with broad generic substitution for all multisource products.
Fifty-six percent of all outpatient drugs were multisource products, accounting for 41% of total outpatient drug expenditures. Of these multisource drugs, 61% were dispensed as a generic. If a generic had been substituted for all corresponding brand-name outpatient drugs in 2000, the median annual savings in drug expenditures per person would have been $45.89 (interquartile range, $10.35 to 158.06) for adults younger than 65 years of age and $78.05 (interquartile range, $19.94 to $241.72) for adults at least 65 years of age. In these age groups, the national savings would have been $5.9 billion (95% CI, $5.5 billion to $6.2 billion) and $2.9 billion (CI, $2.6 billion to $3.1 billion), respectively, representing approximately 11% of drug expenditures.
Specific information about an individual's formulary was not available, so the authors could not estimate how much of the potential savings would benefit an individual or his or her health plan.
Although broad substitution of generic drugs would affect only a modest percentage of drug expenditures, it could result in substantial absolute savings.
Haas JS, Phillips KA, Gerstenberger EP, Seger AC. Potential Savings from Substituting Generic Drugs for Brand-Name Drugs: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 1997–2000. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142:891–897. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-142-11-200506070-00006
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(11):891-897.
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