Use of Generic Drugs Is Rising,
Especially Among the Elderly
By DEAN TREFTZ
Wall Street Journal
February 8, 2007; Page D3
WASHINGTON -- Government data to be released today show that almost two-thirds of prescriptions filled for Medicare beneficiaries are for generic, rather than brand-name, drugs, a proportion that is higher than in the under-65 age group and that is helping to lower the projected costs of the Medicare drug benefit.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the federal program for the elderly and disabled, found 61% of seniors' prescriptions were for generic medications in the third quarter, the third consecutive quarter of growth in using generics.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores also will announce today that the use of generic drugs rose to almost 53% of privately insured Americans, from 48% in 2005. Increased use of generics has been cited as one reason why growth in U.S. health-care spending has slowed from its earlier torrid rate.
Generic alternatives to more expensive brand-name drugs allow seniors to delay reaching the drug benefit's coverage gap, also known as "the doughnut hole," or to avoid it altogether, Medicare officials said. The agency encourages the use of generic drugs.