On our PostScript blog today, we posted about a Harvard study published in this month’s Health Affairs that looked at generic drugs and the potential benefit they can provide in savings to cash-strapped Medicaid programs. The researchers conclude that if pharmacists are allowed to switch patients from a brand name drug to a generic, savings abound for tight Medicaid budgets. While generics are completely safe and chemically equivalent to the brand name drugs, pharmaceutical marketing often has patients convinced that brand name equals better. Not so. Here’s an excerpt:

“While all states have adopted generic substitution laws, the extent to which pharmacists or patients can influence the medications they choose differs from state to state.  The Harvard researchers found that states that did not require patient consent to switch prescriptions from Zocor to the clinically equivalent, less costly simvastatin saved $15.35 per prescription on these medications in the first quarter after patent expiration.  If all states had adopted such policies, Medicaid programs could have saved $19.8 million nationwide on the introduction of simvastatin.

“While patients should be empowered to participate in their own health decisions, this study demonstrates that requiring patient consent for generic substitution impedes patients from initially choosing generics even when they will eventually prefer them to the brand name.”

Read the rest of the post on how generic prescriptions can save money with out sacrificing quality on PostScript.

— Joy Lee, policy intern