We’ve previously discussed the benefit of generic drugs, which are therapeutically equivalent to brand name drugs and significantly more cost effective. Despite the known economic impact of generic drugs and the existence of generic substitution laws in all US states, physicians continue to prescribe brand name drugs out of sheer habit, according to a recent Washington Post article. The article is based on a study published in the American Journal of Medicine that analyzed the rate of ‘dispense as written’ prescriptions for beneficiaries of a large pharmacy benefits manager, finding that physicians designated 'dispense as written' for 2.7 percent of the 5.6 million prescriptions evaluated, with an additional 2 percent of prescriptions requested as ‘dispense as written’ by patients.
The authors estimated that, if each opportunity to substitute a generic alternative had been used over the one-month study period, the patients could have reduced their charges by more than $1.7 million and the health plans could have experienced savings of over $10.6 million. They further noted that:
“With more than 3.6 billion prescriptions filled in the United States annually, patient charges could be reduced by as much as $1.2 billion annually and health system costs could be reduced by as much as $7.7 billion by eliminating dispense as written opportunities.”
Generic drug substitution saves both patients and the system money, and it has the potential to dramatically reduce healthcare spending in the U.S. A Congressional Budget Office report found that generic drugs account for 70 percent of all filled prescriptions and make up savings estimated at $33 billion. Online prescription drug comparison tools, such as DestinationRx’s DrugCompare, encourage generic drug and therapeutic equivalent adherence. DrugCompare allows patients to easily access information on lower-cost alternatives to brand name drugs, allowing organizations to better control costs.