First quarter prescription drug spending: Generic drugs slow upward trend

ST. LOUIS, June 3, 2003 -- Growth in prescription drug spending slowed to 11.3% during first quarter 2003 as consumers used more wallet-friendly generic drugs and, as a result of a mild flu season, fewer antihistamines and cough-cold remedies. Lower, too, was use of estrogen drugs because of safety concerns raised by studies published last year.

According to pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, during the previous year first quarter, spending grew at a much faster 16.9% rate. The company, which serves over 50 million consumers, announced the first quarter drug spending data today at its annual research Outcomes Conference here.

Other research presented at the conference found that physicians welcome and act on information presented to them regarding potential safety hazards involving prescriptions they have written. A significant number 38% said they changed or modified their patient's therapy as a result of the information.

Commenting on the slowdown in prescription drug spending, Express Scripts Chief Executive Officer Barrett Toan said, "The drops in antihistamine, cough-cold and estrogen drug utilization were one-time events, but the cost-reducing effect of expanding generic drug use will continue to help make prescription drugs much more affordable for years to come."

Greater use of generic drugs reduced the dollar outlay for prescription drugs by 3.2% during the first quarter and, for all of 2002, by 2.1%. During the first quarter 2003, 47% of all prescription claims processed by Express Scripts were for generic drugs, up from 43% a year earlier.

During the next five years, patents will expire on brand-name drugs representing $32.3 billion in U.S. sales last year. For example, this year, the ACE inhibitor Monopril and the cancer drug Nolvadex are among the brand-name drugs scheduled for patent expiration. The 2004 patent expiration list includes the antibiotic Cipro and the anti-depressant Celexa, among oth

Contact: Steve Littlejohn
Kupper Parker Communications

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