1/16/2015, The coming revolution in much cheaper life-saving drugs


Americans have had broad access to generic versions of traditional drugs for more than 30 years now, thanks to the 1984 Hatch-Waxman Act. That landmark law established a scheme for regulating the generic drug market, which has now grown to about 85 percent of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States. Generics, on average, are discounted about 75 percent from the price of the brand-name drug…

The United States spent a combined $271.1 billion on prescriptions drugs in 2013, which comes to almost $1 for every $10 the country spends on health care…

Express Scripts, the nation’s largest manager of pharmacy benefits, has been advocating for policies that would speed biosimilar entry into the United States. The company projects that biosimilar competition for the 11 most-popular biologics would save the United States $250 billion on health care over a decade.  Others have offered more tempered estimates. The Rand Corporation says biosimilars will likely mean the U.S. spends $44.2 billion less on drugs through 2024…

The biologic manufacturers Amgen and Genentech for the past couple of years had staged a flurry of lobbying activity at the state level that generic manufacturers claimed would have limited pharmacists’ ability to substitute biosimilars for the original product…

Subject to differing state laws, pharmacists would be able to automatically swap out the brand-name biologic for the interchangeable drug, similar to the way traditional generics are substituted today…

First, we were forced to buy substitutions for brand name drugs, which turned out to not really be substitutions after all.  Now, interchangeables and biosimilars?  Paint me skeptical.

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