Backing Congress to encourage generic drug use could boost health savings

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The Generic Pharmaceutical Association and other trade and patient advocacy groups can push generic drug usage as a way to save on medical costs, but throwing the weight of Congress behind generics gives them a bigger boost than ever.

(THE NEWS: GPhA expresses support of Congressional Affordable Medicines Caucus. For the full story, click here)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services anticipated that by 2019, healthcare costs will account for 19.3% of the country’s GDP. In 2009, according to CMS, health expenditures were $2.5 trillion, including $246 billion spent on prescription drugs, with a projected annual growth rate in drug spending of 6.3% through 2019.

Even a small increase in generic pharmaceutical use could reduce those expenditures by billions of dollars. And although it will be some time before regulations for follow-on biologics emerge, the new regulatory approval pathway for them provided under healthcare reform will open opportunities for further savings in the years to come.

Amid the loud and strident debate over healthcare reform and health spending, it’s often forgotten that generics represent one of the easiest and most accessible ways for the healthcare system to save money. One can hope that a voice for generics on Capitol Hill will help members of Congress and the public realize that cutting healthcare costs without hurting patients is easier than it seems.