42 New Generic Medicines in 2011-2012 Can Save Upstate New York Nearly $900 Million Annually

Upstate New York could see nearly $900 million in annualized savings as a result of 42 brand-name prescription drugs becoming available in their generic form during 2011 and 2012, led by Lipitor®, Plavix®, and Singulair®, according to a report issued today by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

“Consumers will see major savings from the generics in the form of lower copays, and those paying the larger tab of health insurance coverage will see lower prescription cost assumptions built into future premium rates,” said Joel Owerbach, vice president and chief pharmacy officer, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. Prescription drug spending represents about 15 percent to 17 percent of health coverage premiums.

According to the Excellus BCBS analysis of prescription patterns in 39 counties of upstate New York, 18 brand-name medicines were identified as becoming available as generics this year. They are used to treat conditions ranging from cholesterol to acne and have average wholesale prices that produce an estimated annual spend of $340 million. Once those medicines become available as generics, the health plan’s projections show a potential annualized savings of $272 million.

In the report, “The Facts About Opportunities for Generic Savings in 2011 and 2012,” brands that become available as generics are listed by the conditions they treat in the order of the estimated month that the generic becomes available. The report is available by going to excellusbcbs.com/factsheets.

Most drug manufacturers are granted an exclusive patent to produce the brand-name drug for a fixed period of time. “Once the patent expires, multiple companies can produce a generic version, resulting in lower costs for consumers,” said Owerbach. “On average, the cost of a generic drug could be 50 percent, 75 percent, and even 90 percent less than the brand-name version.”

In 2011, the largest potential long-term savings will come from Lipitor, which has 154,000 users in upstate New York. In 2012, the largest potential long-term savings will come from Plavix with its 80,000 upstate New York users and Singulair with 102,000 users. Once their generics become widely available, potential annual savings could total $376 million from these three drugs alone.

Other drugs with patents scheduled to expire in 2011 and 2012 include Xalatan®, Nasacort AQ®, Levaquin®, Lexapro®, Actos®, Avalide®, Avapro®, Diovan® and Diovan HCT®.

Since October 2005, measurable increases in the use of generic drugs as alternatives to higher-priced brand-name drugs have resulted in savings of more than $1 billion for upstate New Yorkers, according to analyses by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has a number of educational materials and resources available on its website, including a consumer reference guide that lists available generic drug options for a variety of common conditions. The reference guide is available at: go.excellusbcbs.com/generics under “Tools and Resources.”

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit excellusbcbs.com