Generic Substitutes, Therapeutic Interchange Can Save Money

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Pills, capsules, tablets
Considerable savings estimated with use of generic substitutes for brand-name combo medications.

HealthDay News–Promoting generic substitution and therapeutic interchange can save money compared with spending on brand-name combination medications, according to a study published in the Aug. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Chana A. Sacks, M.D., M.P.H., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues estimated the additional cost of prescribing brand-name combination medications instead of generic constituents in a retrospective analysis for 2011 through 2016 for Medicare part D beneficiaries prescribed 29 brand-name combination drugs.

The medications were separated into three categories: constituents available as generic medication at identical doses, generic constituents at different doses, and therapeutically equivalent generic substitutes (20, three, and six medications, respectively). The researchers found that for generic medications at identical doses, the total spending on brand-name products was $303 million in 2016, compared with an estimated spending of $68 million on generic constituents. Total spending on brand-name combination products was $232 million, compared with an estimated spending of $13 million on generic constituents at different doses. For the therapeutically-equivalent generic category, total spending was $491 million versus estimated spending of $20 million on generic constituents. For the 29 drugs, the estimated spending would have been $925 million less than estimated spending on brand-name combinations.

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“Promoting generic substitution and therapeutic interchange through prescriber education and more rational substitution policies may offer important opportunities to achieve substantial savings in the Medicare drug benefit program,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text