ANN ARBOR---Debate over substituting one drug product for another isn't new---by some accounts, it goes back at least 100 years, but it has intensified in recent years with drug companies, insurers and health care providers at odds over rising pharmaceutical costs.
Manufacturers of brand-name pharmaceuticals trying to generate profits on the drugs they invented are loathe to give over market share to cheaper generics, but insurers trying to drive costs down often push providers to prescribe and dispense generics and encourage patients to take generics through higher copays on brand-name medications.
A group of University of Michigan researchers conducted an in-depth look at the issues of brand-name medications vs. their generic equivalents, and they are publishing their findings in a seven-article series in the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (http://www.aphanet.org/JAPhA/japha.html). Three of the pieces appear in the current September/October issue.
"We feel there's a lack of knowledge on the part of employers, insurers, and providers regarding generic drugs and that these changes in prescription drug benefit programs should be made based upon a better understanding of the issues," said Duane Kirking, lead investigator on the project, of the motivation for the team's research. The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation provided $50,000 in funding toward the research.
Among their findings:
--In spite of changes in the marketplace and projections for massive growth, generic drugs appear to have stabilized at about 40 percent of prescriptions and 10 percent of pharmaceutical sales. Kirking said he doesn't expect that share to change substantially, because even as manufacturers bring more generics to market, brand-name manufacturer
Contact: Colleen Newvine
University of Michigan