Upstate New Yorkers could see more than $700 million in annualized savings as 35 brand-name prescription drugs become available in their generic form during 2012 and 2013, according to a report issued by Univera Healthcare.
Leading the list of new generics that offer the greatest savings opportunities are Plavix for heart patients, Singulair for asthma and allergic rhinitis and Cymbalta for treatment of depression, pain and fibromyalgia. Plavix has about 62,000 users in upstate New York, Singulair about 91,000 users and Cymbalta about 42,000 users.
"The potential annual savings from just these three drugs could total $264 million once the generic forms become widely available," said Joel Owerbach, Univera Healthcare vice president and chief pharmacy officer.
Upstate New York's 62,000 Plavix users spend about $127 million annually for the drug. The retail cost for a 30-day supply of brand-name Plavix is about $230. When its patent expired in May, generic versions priced as low as $10 for a 30-day supply became available, though prices vary by pharmacy. The potential annual savings for Plavix users in upstate New York is $100 million.
While Lipitor's patent expired and the first generic version became available at the end of 2011, the second half of 2012 is when users of the cholesterol-lowering drug will see the generic price tumble.
"When the patent on a drug expires, production of the generic form may be limited to one or two designated manufacturers, so the price difference initially can be minimal," said Owerbach. "After six months, additional approved manufacturers are free to produce the generic, and that's when the price can drop by 50 percent, 75 percent and even 90 percent."
Brand-name Lipitor retails for about $150 for a 30-day supply. Six months ago when its patent expired, the initial generic version sold for between $110 and $135 for a 30-day supply, depending on the pharmacy. Now, six manufacturers produce generic Lipitor, driving the retail price for a 30-day supply to less than $30. The cost is expected to drop even further.
More than 529,000 upstate New Yorkers use the 35 brand-name drugs that have, or will become available as generics during 2012 and 2013, including Lexapro for depression, Actos for diabetes, Diovan and Diovan HCT for high blood pressure, Niaspan for cholesterol and Aciphex for heartburn.
The savings opportunity offered by generic drugs is so great that health insurers consider the lower cost of generics when constructing premium rates. Prescription drug spending represents about 15 percent to 17 percent of health insurance coverage premiums.
The complete report on these 35 new generic drugs, "The Facts About Opportunities for Generic Savings in 2012 and 2013 is available online at univerahealthcare.com/factsheets under the heading Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs.