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QuintilesIMS Institute report: Generics brought $227 billion in 2015 savings


WASHINGTON —QuintilesIMS on Wednesday released its 2016 Generic Drug Savings and Access in the United States Report, which it compiled on behalf of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA). 


The report found that in 2015, generic drugs brought patients and the U.S. healthcare system 227 billion in savings, bringing the savings since 2005 from generics to $1.46 trillion. And generics saved Medicare about $67.6 billion in 2015 (about $1,737 per enrollee) and Medicaid said savings of $450 per enrollee, totaling $32.7 billion. 


“Generic drugs are the foundation of any successful effort to lower health spending and increase patient access to affordable medicine,” GPhA president and CEO Chip Davis said. “A diverse group of experts — the federal government, pharmacy benefit managers, consumer groups and others — agree that generic drugs drive system savings, not costs.”


The savings that the report highlights are particularly impactful in certain therapy areas and among certain patient groups. Mental health in particular saw $34.4 billion in savings, the most of any therapy area, and nearly $10 billion more savings than the second-ranked area, hypertension, which saw $25.8 billion in savings in 2015. Adults 40-65 years old see 45% of the generics savings, with seniors 65 years and older seeing 34% of the savings. Young adults 20-29 saw 14% of the total savings, and children 0-19 years old say 7% of the savings. 


The QuintilesIMS Institute report also highlights the fact that though generics make up 89% of prescriptions, they only constitute 27% of total medicine spending, which means that branded drugs making up 11% of prescriptions are responsible for 73% of costs — with specialty drugs making up 1% of scripts and 30% of total drug spending. 


When it comes to biosimilars, the less costly alternatives to biologic treatments, estimates of the savings they could bring — only one biosimilar, Sandoz’s Neupogen biosimilar Zarxio, has launched in the United States so far, with Pfizer’s biosimilar of Remicade biosimilar Inflectra set to ship at the end of November — vary widely. The report said that estimates put potential savings between $44 billion and $250 billion over 10 years.

Davis said in a conference call Wednesday that because biosimilars are still in a nascent stage in the United States, time is needed to see what sort of competition and savings will emerge as more biosimilars enter the market. 


In the immediate term, though, Davis said that the biggest area that GPhA and its Biosimilars Council are focusing on is ensuring the creation of policies that allow generics savings to continue and increase. 


“More can be done to increase patient access to safe, effective and more affordable generic medicines. GPhA will continue working with policymakers, regulators and others to bring greater health savings to our country,” Davis said. “That effort begins with policy that builds on this industry’s record of significant savings and promotes generic competition.”


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