Seniors Group Asks State Officials To Begin Campaign To Promote Generic Treatments
The San Francisco-based seniors group Senior Action Network has made encouraging expanded use of generic drugs its top priority, citing statistics finding that California residents could save a total of $2 billion each year by opting for generic instead of name-brand drugs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Group officials compared prices of 21 "top-selling brand-name drugs" with those of generic medicines or "older, cheaper alternatives," finding that non-brand-name alternatives cost approximately half that of name-brand treatments. The group is asking state officials to immediately begin a public service campaign touting generic drugs "as the fastest way to help seniors" cut drug costs. "Urging people to buy generics and safe alternatives is something that can be done without legislation," Bruce Lee Livingston, the group's executive director, said. Group officials also said they would begin advocating for a Medicare prescription drug benefit and for the government to impose price controls on new drugs. The group found that residents of Canada, where the government sets drug prices, paid between 33% and 67% less for seven "widely prescribed" brand-name drugs than people in America, where the market sets drug prices. Jeff Trewhitt, spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said his group disagrees with SAN's position on a Medicare drug benefit and on price controls but supports its emphasis on generic drugs. "We have no problem with that as long as the final decision is made by the physician who knows the patient best," he added. Trewhitt added, however, that a state-sponsored ad campaign to encourage generic drug use would be superfluous because without such a campaign, generics made up 43% of the prescription drug market in recent years, compared to just 19% in 1984 (Abate, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.