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American Physicians Should Prescribe More Generics, ACP Recommends

Generic Drugs

While generic drugs presently account for about 88 percent of the prescriptions in the United States, experts with the American College of Physicians (ACP) are recommending that doctors prescribe even more generics to patients — “whenever possible” — in order to help contain rising drug costs while improving patient adherence to therapies.

The ACP’s recommendation — which also applies to patients, who are advised to use more generic medications — is detailed in a new paper published on Tuesday in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The paper examines the use of brand name drugs in instances where generics are available, barriers hindering an increase in generics use, similarities in clinical effects between branded and generic options, the impact generics have on adherence to therapies, and the techniques available to bolster the use of generics.

ACP President Wayne J. Riley, M.D., referred to the use of generics as “a High Value Care way to improve health, avoid harms, and eliminate wasteful practices.”

While the use of generic drugs has increased over time, clinicians often prescribe more expensive brand name drugs when equally effective, well proven, and less expensive generic versions are available (…) The use of generic drugs is a High Value Care way to improve health, avoid harms, and eliminate wasteful practices.

In backing their advisory, the ACP cites as study in which researchers examined Medicare beneficiaries afflicted with diabetes and found that, depending on the class, 23-45 percent of the prescriptions written were for brand name drugs when there were identical generics available. The authors of the study placed Medicare’s potential savings at an estimated $1.4 billion for diabetes patients alone — a savings achieved by simply replacing diabetics’ brand name drugs with identical generics.

While the ACP supports generic medications over branded options, it “recognizes that there are situations where generic substitution is not possible and the use of brand name drugs is clinically appropriate,” according to Dr. Riley.

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