; 35 New Generic Medicines In 2012-2013 Offer Region More Than $700 Million In Annual Savings
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Press Release

35 New Generic Medicines In 2012-2013 Offer Region More Than $700 Million In Annual Savings

Price cuts for generic Lipitor® will push total saved even higher

June 12, 2012

ROCHESTER – Upstate New Yorkers could see more than $700 million in annualized savings as 35 brand-name prescription drugs become available in their generic form during 2012 and 2013, according to a new report issued by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS).

Leading the list of new generics that offer the greatest savings opportunities are Plavix® for heart patients, Singulair® for asthma and allergic rhinitis and Cymbalta® for treatment of depression, pain and fibromyalgia. Plavix has about 62,000 users in upstate New York, Singulair about 91,000 users and Cymbalta about 42,000 users.  

“The potential annual savings from just these three drugs could total $264 million once the generic forms become widely available,” said Joel Owerbach, Pharm.D., vice president and chief pharmacy officer, Excellus BCBS. 

  • Ex. Plavix: Upstate New York’s 62,000 Plavix users spend about $127 million annually for the drug. The retail cost for a 30-day supply of brand-name Plavix is about $230. When its patent expired in May, generic versions priced as low as $10 for a 30-day supply became available (prices vary by pharmacy). The potential annual savings for Plavix users in upstate New York is $100 million.
  • Ex. Lipitor: While Lipitor’s patent expired and the first generic version became available at the end of 2011, the second half of 2012 is when users of the cholesterol-lowering drug will see the generic price tumble. 

“When the patent on a drug expires, production of the generic form may be limited to one or two designated manufacturers, so the price difference initially can be minimal,” said Owerbach. “After six months, additional approved manufacturers are free to produce the generic, and that’s when the price can drop by 50 percent, 75 percent and even 90 percent.”

Brand-name Lipitor retails for about $150 for a 30-day supply. Six months ago when its patent expired, the initial generic version sold for between $110 and $135 for a 30-day supply, depending on the pharmacy. Now, six manufacturers produce generic Lipitor, driving the retail price for a 30-day supply to less than $30. The cost is expected to drop even further.

More than 529,000 upstate New Yorkers use the 35 brand-name drugs that have, or will become available as generics during 2012 and 2013, including Lexapro® for depression, Actos® for diabetes, Diovan® and Diovan HCT® for high blood pressure, Niaspan® for cholesterol and Aciphex® for heartburn.

The savings opportunity offered by generic drugs is so great that health insurers consider the lower cost of generics when constructing premium rates. Prescription drug spending represents about 15 percent to 17 percent of health insurance coverage premiums.

The complete report on these 35 new generic drugs, “The Facts About Opportunities for Generic Savings in 2012 and 2013,” is available online at excellusbcbs.com/factsheets under the heading Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs. 

About Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit excellusbcbs.com.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 37 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 105 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.