The Low Down On Drug Prices
Experts believe healthcare costs will be impacted across society, as the coming expiration of patents of best selling drugs like Plavix and Lipitor, leads to the easy availability of cheaper generic versions of the popular medications.
Cheaper, low cost generics, Shands pharmacist Bill Harbilas, Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Florida, said would reduce costs for individuals, insurance firms, health plans and for those who pay for the drugs.
For instance, the lowest dosage of the cholesterol drug Lipitor scheduled to go generic in November, now costs over $100 a month.
According to Harbilas, whether a public or a private programme pays, the fact is Lipitor proves very expensive on the American health care system, and everyone will be greatly relieved when it goes generic.
Harbilas explains a generic of a drug whose patent has expired is made by a company for the first six months, which does not accord great cost reduction immediately. However, six months later when more companies raise the competition by beginning to produce generic versions, this helps to drive the costs down.
No one knows how much Plavix and Lipitor will cost when their patent expires, experts give examples of other drugs gone generic like Zocor, Lipitorâ€™s competitor available for $4 at Walmart.
As Harbilas said, in a couple of years Lipitor taken by around 4.3 million Americans, would cost very little, as well.
Blood thinner Plavix, commonly used by heart patients and costing the 1.4 million Americans who use it, around $150 for a monthâ€™s supply is scheduled to go generic by May 2012.
Lipitor and Plavix are among the most prescribed by the pharmacy, says Lorraine Keites, a pharmacist at Wiseâ€™s Drug Store in Gainesville, and there will be significant savings for those who currently pay $40 for trademark drug prescriptions and $10 for generics.
With the same active ingredient as trademarked drugs, generic are generally as effective, and while different binders change the effectiveness, dosage adjustment by doctors overcomes that.
The next 14 months will bring generic versions of seven of the worldâ€™s 20 best-selling drugs, including generic versions for trademarked drugs for blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, depression, high triglycerides, HIV and bipolar disorder.