Generic prescribing increased sharply in the US last year as a number of major pharma brands went off-patent.
The Generic Drug Savings In The US study, conducted for the Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) by IMS Health, found generics now account for nearly 80 per cent of US prescriptions.
2011 saw the largest year-on-year increase in US generic prescribing since 1998, according to the study, which also found generics saved US consumers, taxpayers, federal and state governments and other payers $1.07tn between 2002 and 2011.
The sharp rise in annual savings is linked to the introduction of generics competition for several significant brands, headed up by the former top-selling prescription medicine Pfizer's Lipitor (atorvastatin).
The period also saw generic competition hit Lilly's Zyprexa (olanzapine) and Janssen's Levaquin (levofloxacin).
Ralph Neas, president and CEO of GPhA, said: “The Generic Drug Savings study shows conclusively that, as Congress and the White House gear up for the fiscal challenges facing them in the coming year, generic and biosimilar utilisation are the best places to go for the 'offsets' that everyone will be seeking.
“The sustainability of the health care system and the national economy depend in significant measure on the availability of affordable medicines”
A number of generic drug manufacturers stepped up to commend the study, including Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals.
“Thousands of generic drugs are available in the US,” said Venkat Krishnan, senior vice president and regional director of Americans, Ranbaxy, “and all are manufactured and inspected under the same strict guidelines as brand name drug.
“With every prescription filled (some 80 per cent of all prescriptions written in 2011), patients taking generics receive the same medicine, with the same quality and result, but at a much lower cost.”
Krishnan also said that the savings for consumers using traditional generics could be duplicated in the biopharmaceutical market.
“We view biologics as the next generation of generic innovation, and Ranbaxy has been hard at work positioning itself as a player in this space,” explained Krishnan. “It is important that the FDA maintains its commitment to biosimilars and that it ensures a workable pathway for such life saving treatments in the US market.”