Created by: Medical Billing and Coding
First posted 7/12/11 on Common Sense Family Doctor
I’ve always favored prescribing generic drugs over handing out brand-name samples, since the latter, while initially “free” for patients, can actually be less effective and cost them more money in the long run. In fact, the only patient for whom I can remember routinely writing “Dispense as Written” (forcing the pharmacy to dispense the brand-name drug rather than the generic) on prescriptions was a special case: she insisted that I do so, because she believed that the brand-name worked better for her condition than the generic did. (And she may very well have been right, although she would have been a rare exception to the rule that generics are therapeutically equivalent to the brand-name drugs they replace.)
Two mega-trends are driving down branded pharmaceutical sales in the U.S.: switches from branded to generic prescription drug products for major chronic conditions; and, the lack of new-new branded Rx products that (could) command higher prices.
A down-market picture emerges from The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2010, based on market data analyzed by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics (IMS). While U.S. market growth for pharma overall ranges from 3% to 5%, IMS says, protected Rx brands were negatively impacted through the switch to cheaper generic substitutes. Generics now comprise 78% of pharma market share.
The key sentence in the report that underlies this dark snapshot is: “The number of patients starting treatment for a chronic therapy was down 3.4Mn from 2009 levels, and increasingly these patients are starting therapy with a generic drug.”