Statins Going Generic Saved Medicare Billions

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

MONDAY, September 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Here’s some evidence prescription drugs don’t have to cost a fortune: New research finds Medicare has saved billions as more and more generic cholesterol-lowering drugs became available, even so the number of Americans using the drugs have increased.

“One of the biggest contributors to our health care costs is prescription drug spending,” said study author Dr. Ambarish Pandey, cardiologist and assistant professor of internal medicine at Southwestern Medical Center. from the University of Texas (UT). “Switching to generics is an effective strategy to reduce the costs borne by health systems.”

Between 2010 and 2018, patents on a number of cholesterol-lowering drugs expired – including Crestor and Zetia – and generic versions became available.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from Medicare Part D Prescription Drug from January 2014 to December 2018. They found that the number of prescriptions for statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs increased from 20.5 million to 25, 2 million during this period, an increase of 23%.

But even as prescriptions for drugs have increased, total costs have fallen, according to the study.

The number of prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering generic drugs increased by 35%, from 17.8 million to 24 million, while overall statin spending fell 52%, from $ 4.8 billion in 2014 to 2, $ 3 billion in 2018.

Statins are the most popular type of cholesterol-lowering drug in the United States, prescribed to more than 35 million people.

During the study period, Medicare spent another $ 9.6 billion on brand-name cholesterol-lowering drugs, but could have saved an additional $ 2.5 billion by switching more quickly to generics when they became available. noted the researchers.

The results were published on September 9 in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

“Finding ways to become more cost effective and more accessible is important for our health care system,” said study lead author Dr Andrew Sumarsono, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern.

“While there is still a lot of work to be done, it is encouraging to see how quickly patients have moved on to generic options once they become available,” Sumarsono said in a press release from UT Southwestern. “This rapid switch to generics has saved Medicare a lot of money.”

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SOURCE: UT Southwestern Medical Center, press release, September 9, 2020

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