Cost Containment Strategies: Generic Medications

The Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians just published a free online article that is a must read for hospice organizations interested in promoting cost effective use of generics. The article describes findings from a review of the literature to answer 5 questions about generic medications.

The article explores 1) how often brand-name medications are used when generics are available?; 2) does the use of generic medications influence adherence?; 3) do brand-name and generics have similar clinical effects?; 4) What are the barriers to using generics?; and 5) what strategies can be used to promote cost savings through greater use of generics?

Despite the availability of identical generic versions and clinical practice guidelines promoting their use, health care providers frequently continue to prescribe brand name medications. It’s estimated that prescribing of newer, brand name drugs instead of generics leads to billions of dollars in excess costs. Medicare could save $1.4 billion for patients with diabetes alone by combining generic substitution with generic interchange.

The article concludes with a recommendation that clinicians should prescribe generic medications, if possible, rather than more expensive brand name medications. Unfortunately, provider and patient perceptions continue to pose obstacles to improving the use of generics.

Link to Annals of Internal Medicine (11/24/2015)