Health plan could save $1B per year with generic drugs

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield says it could save $460 million to $1 billion per year if its customers use more generic drugs instead of name-brand prescriptions, according to a new report from the insurer.

That's because the average 30-day costs for brand drugs have risen exponentially--a 73 percent increase from $120 to $208 over the last five years--compared to generics, which actually decreased 7.5 percent from $19 to $18, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports.

Adding to this cost trend is the fact that "no less than 42 brand-name drugs either have or will become available as generics in 2011 and 2012, which easily can mean a 2-point to 4-point increase in the upstate New York generic fill rate," says Joel Owerbach, Excellus vice president and chief pharmacy officer.

Excellus hopes to capitalize on the greater availability of generics by increasing the generic fill rate from 72 percent last year to 75 percent or even 80 percent, reports The Greater Binghamton Business Journal.

To reach that goal, the insurer is urging consumers to take full advantage of generic prescription drugs by, for example, asking their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist whether a generic drug alternative or option is appropriate for their health need. It also wants employers to offer an employee drug benefit design with built-in incentives for lower-cost generics, reports the Messenger Post.

To learn more:
- read the Excellus press release and report (.pdf)
- check out the Greater Binghamton Business Journal article
- see the Messenger Post article
- read the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle article