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Prescription Patents To Expire

July 25, 2011, 5:19 PM by Nicole Winters

Prescription Patents To Expire
You could soon be saving money at the pharmacy counter, but it's got nothing to do with the latest sale or coupon offer being offered by your neighborhood drug store.

Over the next four years, the patents on a number of popular prescription drugs are due to run out. That means competition from generic versions of some of the best-selling medications will slash the cost to you. The expirations affect seven of the world's top 20 most popular pills, including the cholesterol medication Lipitor; the asthma remedy, Singulair; and the blood thinner, Plavix. Doctors are hoping the lower generic drug prices will benefit people who've been jeopardizing their health because they can't afford medications.

"A generic drug is, in most cases, the same as the pre-existing drug. So we would expect that it would have the same formulation and the same effects," Dr. Merle Myerson said.

Generic drugs can cost as much as 80 percent less and many carry lower co-payments for drug coverage. Last year, the average co-pay for generics was $6, compared with $24 for brand-name drugs.

So who will see these savings? Doctors estimate that over the next three years, one in five people will save money on their prescription costs due to the increased competition from generic drugs. In five years, that number of people saving at the drug store is expected to jump to one in three.

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