Medco Substituting More Generics for Brand Name Drugs
Pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions currently substitutes 54% of brand-name prescription drugs with generic medications, compared with 47% in 2005, according to a report released by the company on Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the report, increased use of generic medications has helped limit prescription drug spending growth in recent years (Yi, Los Angeles Times, 5/20).
Prescription drug spending by health insurers and employers increased by 5.4% in 2005, compared with 8.5% in 2004, the report finds. In 2005, prescription drug spending growth in large part involved medications for high cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, diabetes and cancer, the report finds (Washington Post, 5/20).
The use of brand-name prescription drugs began to decrease last year as a result of the market withdrawals of the COX-2 inhibitors Vioxx and Bextra -- as well as decreased sales of the COX-2 inhibitor Celebrex -- over safety concerns, the report finds. In addition, health care experts said that the use of generic medications has increased as employers have sought to reduce prescription drug spending.
Chris Wright, a managing principal of pharmaceutical consulting company ZS Associates, said that many patents on brand-name prescription drugs have begun to expire (Los Angeles Times, 5/20).