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Tip sheet Annals of Internal Medicine, June 7, 2005

1. Using Generic Instead of Brand-Name Drugs Could Save $8.8 Billion/Year

U.S. adults could save as much as $8.8 billion per year by using generic drugs rather than brand name drugs, an analysis of data from a 2000 national medical expenditure survey found (Article, p. 891).

Using only drugs that had both a brand-name and at least one identical generic formulation, researchers estimated that people younger than 65 years would save an average of $45.89 per year and those older than 65 would save $78.05.

The authors note that although the "absolute per person savings would be small," the overall savings would equal about 11 percent of all drug expenditures for adults in the United States each year and could reduce costs without hindering quality of care.

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2. Researchers Find 1991 Gulf War Combatants Have 4 Health Conditions More Often than Non-Combatants

Ten years after the 1991 Gulf War, researchers physically examined a sample group of veterans who had been deployed to the Gulf and a comparable group that were not deployed or had served elsewhere (Article, p. 881).

Looking for 12 medical conditions, researchers found only four more common among deployed than nondeployed veterans: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, skin rashes and indigestion or heartburn. Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hepatitis and obstructive lung disease were not more common among the deployed veterans.

An editorial writer says that the four conditions do not constitute a unique syndrome (Editorial, p. 938). But the writer notes that similar symptoms have been reported "after every armed conflict since the Civil War," and no systematic investigation has been made.

"A country that sends its young people to war has an obligation to study all illnesses that occur in the aftermath of war, not just traumatic injury," the writer says.

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Contact: Susan Anderson
sanderson@acponline.org
215-351-2653
American College of Physicians
6-Jun-2005


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