(Utica, NY – March 2013) Upstate New Yorkers could see more than $196 million in annualized savings as 14 brand-name prescription drugs become available in their generic form during 2013 and an additional $250 million in savings after 23 more generics become available in 2014, according to a new report issued by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS).
“As expensive brand-name drugs become available as generics, the savings to consumers can be significant, both in terms of lower retail prices for those who pay out-of-pocket and lower copays for those with insurance coverage,” said Mona Chitre, Pharm.D., vice president of pharmacy management for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Importantly, consumers should understand that generics are approved by the Food and Drug Administration as being as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts, so they can be confident in the generics’ efficacy.”
Leading the list of new generics that offer the greatest savings opportunities are Diovan for treatment of high blood pressure and Cymbalta for a variety of conditions including depression, pain and fibromyalgia. Diovan has about 39,000 users in upstate New York and Cymbalta about 40,000 users.
*Diovan: Upstate New York’s 39,000 Diovan users spend about $48 million annually for the drug. The retail cost for a 30-day supply of Diovan is about $125. Scheduled to become available in March, generic versions are projected to be priced as low as $25 for a 30-day supply once they become widely available (prices vary by pharmacy). The potential annual savings for Diovan users in upstate New York is $38 million.
*Cymbalta: Upstate New York’s 40,000 Cymbalta users spend about $98 million annually for the drug. The retail cost for a 30-day supply of Cymbalta is about $275. The price for the generic is expected to be about $55 once it becomes widely available after its release in December. The potential annual savings in upstate NY is $78 million.
*Niaspan Upstate New York’s 17,000 Niaspan users spend about $28 million annually for the drug, which is used to treat high cholesterol. The retail cost for a 30-day supply of Niaspan is about $182. The price for the generic is expected to be about $37 once it becomes widely available after its release in September. The potential annual savings for upstate is $23 million.
More than 126,000 upstate New Yorkers use the 14 brand-name drugs that are scheduled to become available as generics during 2013.
In 2014, an additional 23 brand-name drugs are scheduled to become available in their generic form, representing potential savings of $250 million across upstate New York. Leading the list for 2014 will be the generic for Nexium that is scheduled to become available in May of 2014. More than 46,000 upstate New Yorkers use Nexium, which is used to treat heartburn. The potential annual savings associated with its generic version is more than $83 million.
“The savings opportunity offered by generic drugs is so great that health insurers consider the lower cost of generics when constructing premium rates,” Chitre noted. “Typically, prescription drug spending represents about 15 percent to 17 percent of a health plan’s total benefit expense.”
Submitted by Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield