(BPT) - It’s a fact: If you take safe, effective, FDA-approved generic prescription medicines, you are saving money. The average copay for a generic medicine is nearly $50 lower than the copay for a brand-name drug. More than 9 out of 10 generic prescriptions are filled for $20 or less.
The Association for Accessible Medicines’ Generic Drug & Biosimilars Access & Savings in the U.S. Report (with data provided by IQVIA) reveals that savings from generic drugs added up to $313 billion in 2019 and close to $2.2 trillion over the past decade. Biosimilars, which meet the same standards of pharmaceutical quality, safety and efficacy that apply to all biological medicines, are a growing area of savings for America’s patients. They saved the health care system $2.2 billion in 2019 and $4.5 billion over the past 10 years.
The $96 billion in Medicare savings and $48.5 in Medicaid savings mean not just better health for participants but also a lighter burden on taxpayers. A majority of prescriptions, and thus generic savings, are attributed to commercially insured patients. If you get your health insurance through your own or a relative’s employer, your savings are part of the $153 billion in private savings.
Access to generic medicines matters more than ever today. The data show that generics are putting treatment within reach from sea to shining sea. The 50 states saved an average of $6.1 billion in 2019, including $1.9 billion in Medicare savings and $950 million in Medicaid savings. How did your state do? Find out with AAM’s interactive State Savings Map.
Here are some highlights:
- California: $28 billion in savings. This amount includes $8.9 billion and $6 billion in Medicare and Medicaid savings, respectively. (“I went from paying for a biologic that didn’t work well to not paying anything for a biosimilar that truly helped.” Meet Jeni of Newhall, CA)
- Connecticut: $3.7 billion in savings. Medicare savings came to $1.1 billion, while Medicaid savings totaled $656.6 million. (“My two generic prescription drugs, each only $2 per month, help me stay active. Everybody understands that kind of savings when they’re on a fixed income." Meet Rich of Trumbull, CT)
- Florida: $19.1 billion in savings. Florida’s Medicare savings came to $6.9 billion, with Medicaid savings totaling $1.9 billion. (“My doctor recommended the generic, and it’s done everything that the brand-name drug did, plus it’s much cheaper. Those generic savings have really come in handy, because I’ve been able to help my grandchildren with their college savings.” Meet Doug of Pembroke Pines, FL)
- Maryland: $5.1 billion in savings. Medicare savings for Maryland came to $1.2 billion, and Medicaid savings totaled $885 million. (“Without access to generic medicines, I don't know what I'd do." Meet Rich of Laurel, MD)
- New Jersey: $9.6 billion in savings. New Jersey’s Medicare savings totaled $3.1 billion, and its Medicaid savings totaled $1.8 billion. (“If I didn’t have generic prescriptions, I probably wouldn’t be here, because the brand name drugs are expensive—sometimes over $200 a bottle.” Meet Ariel of Bloomfield, NJ)
- New York: $25.6 billion in savings. New York’s generic Medicare savings came to $8.6 billion, with $5.4 billion in Medicaid savings. “I don’t have a lot of time or money to spare, so I tell the doctors to just give me the generic because they work the same, and it’s way less than half the cost of the brand name. I’ve been able to use the savings to go back to school.” Meet Raeanne of New York, NY)
- Pennsylvania: $14.3 billion in savings. Pennsylvania’s generic Medicare savings totaled $4.7 billion, and its Medicaid savings were $2.3 billion. (“I have a very good relationship with my pharmacist. He said, ‘Don’t waste your money on the brand names.’ I’m on a fixed income, and those savings really do add up.” Meet Michelle of Stroudsburg, PA)
- Utah: $2.5 billion in savings. Medicare savings for Utah came to $506.6 million, with $180.5 million in Medicaid savings. (“I’m pretty much living paycheck to paycheck, and without generic medicine, I probably wouldn’t even be able to put gas in my tank.” Meet McKenzie of Salt Lake City, UT)
- Wyoming: $431.4 million in savings. Wyoming’s Medicare savings came to $111 million, and its Medicaid savings totaled $37 million. (“When you pay for a name brand, it's super expensive. Do you know what it's like to have a drug that costs your car payment each month? If it weren't for these generic medications, I don't know where my life would be. I can afford things.” Meet Jonnie of Skiatook, WY)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, generics are saving lives and containing health care costs. When federal and state policy makers secure our savings, they help us all to be healthier and more productive.