Projectable to the U.S. commercially insured population, the study examined six major drug-therapy classes and was based on a random sample of approximately three million individuals.

The script “2004 Generic Drug Usage Report” also ranked generic drug use and savings opportunities by state, revealing significant variation across the six drug categories used to treat common conditions like stomach ulcers, inflammation, depression, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The company is one of the nation’s largest managers of pharmacy benefit plans for employers, governments, unions and health plans.

The most dramatic savings potential exists for generic gastrointestinals, which are dispensed only 31% nationwide, but could feasibly reach as much as 95% adoption, the report finds. As such, greater use of non-branded gastrointestinals alone could drive down costs an additional $5.4 billion nationally.

In the anti-cholesterol category, generics are only dispensed 7% of the time nationally. However, drug costs could be reduced an additional $5.1 billion annually if generic fill rates reach the 70% goal projected in the report. The generic fill rate goals utilised in the study are based on an evaluation of clinical efficacy and market dynamics of branded and generic medications.

“Consider that $20 billion in generic drug savings in just six therapy classes is the same amount America’s community hospitals spend each year on uncompensated care for the uninsured,” said study author Steve Miller, MD.

On average, a generic drug costs approximately $60 less than a brand name drug. Consumers also pay a lower co-payment for generic medications, saving $10 or more per prescription on average compared to branded medications.

MEDICA.de; Source: Express Scripts, Inc.