Brown Statement on New Analysis Showing Generic Drugs Have Brought $1 Trillion in Savings to Consumers and U.S. Health System Over Past Ten Years

Brown Has Led Senate Efforts to Expand Access to Generic Drugs, Including Biologics

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) released the following statement today on a new analysis released by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) showing $1 trillion in savings for consumers and the American health care system from the use of generic prescription drugs. According to the report, “Generic Drug Savings in the U.S.,” savings totaled $193 billion in 2011 and more than $1 trillion between 2002 and 2011.

“Generic drugs have allowed millions of Ohioans and Americans to purchase safe and effective treatments at a reasonable price. This study underscores why expanded access to generic drugs—including biologics—is so important for consumers and the U.S. health care system. The use of generic drugs under the Medicaid and Medicare systems has saved beneficiaries and taxpayers billions of dollars,” Brown said. “We must make every effort possible to prevent further delays of generic biologics, and get affordable life-saving medicines into the hands of patients in need.”


Other findings from the study include:

  • Savings from generics in 2011 increased 22 percent over the prior year, marking the largest year-over-year increase since 1998, and 10 percentage points higher than the 10-year average.
  • Savings from newer generic medicines — those that have entered the market since 2002 — continue to increase exponentially, totaling $481 billion over the past 10 years.
  • Generic versions of central nervous system drugs, such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants, and cardiovascular drugs account for 57 percent of the annual savings.
  • In 2011, nearly 80 percent of the 4 billion prescriptions written in the U.S. were dispensed using generic medicines, while accounting for only 27 percent of the total drug spending.

Brown has been a leader on efforts to ensure that Ohioans can afford needed prescription drugs through increased access to lower-cost generic medications. He has pushed to give consumers more timely access to generic biologic drugs, which are some of the priciest medications on the market and treat conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and cancer. During the health reform debate, Brown spoke on the Senate floor in support of an amendment to allow safe drug importation and has been a sponsor of drug importation legislation in previous Congresses.

Brown has also held several events in 2011—in Cleveland, Toledo, Austintown, and Mansfield, among others— aimed at educating seniors about new prescription drug benefits available to them through the health care reform law. Beginning January 1, 2011, the law provides Medicare beneficiaries with a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs and biologics if they enter the Medicare drug coverage gap, also known as the “donut hole.” Discounts will increase every year until 2020, when the “donut hole” will be completely filled and beneficiaries will only be responsible for the standard 25 percent co-insurance payment rather than the full 100 percent that they were paying prior to 2011.


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