(HealthDay News) – Americans could save tens of billions of dollars with more efficient drug use, replacing brand-name drugs with their generic equivalents whenever possible, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Michael Johansen, MD, family medicine physician with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, and colleagues reviewed self-reported prescription drug use by 107 132 Americans who were part of the 2010 to 2012 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

The study authors found that $760 billion was spent on prescription drugs during the study. Nearly 10% of all prescription drug expenses involved brand-name drug overuse. Out-of-pocket expenses totaled $175 billion during the study. Brand-name drug overuse accounted for 14% of these costs.

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“We observed an estimated potential savings of $73 billion overall and nearly $25 billion in out-of-pocket expenses throughout the three years of the study,” Johansen said in a university news release.


  1. Johansen ME, Richardson C. Estimation of potential savings through therapeutic substitution. JAMA Intern Med. 2016; doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1704.
  2. Sharfstein JM, Greene J. Promise and peril for generic drugs. JAMA Intern Med. 2016; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1720.