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Study: Seniors Not Using Generic Drugs

September 25, 2008, 5:10 PM by Kelli Grant

Study: Seniors Not Using Generic Drugs
According to figures released Thursday, seniors are more likely to ask their pharmacist for generic medications 
when they are paying, but chose more expensive originals when the government is picking up the cost. 

Generic drugs are medically indistinguishable from non-generic brands, and can cost up to 80% less. They account for two-thirds of all prescriptions dispensed in the U-S. 

Yet, the new study, published by Medco Health Solutions Inc., suggests some patients are still more comfortable taking medicines from the original manufacturer. Researchers say the belief that brand-name drugs work better than generics may be to blame. They also say that research shows doctors often don't talk about the potential cost savings of generic drugs. 

It's estimated the average out-of-pocket expense for seniors in Medicare taking generic drugs will be $5.32 this year. That's nearly six times less than the nearly $30 seniors taking brand name drugs will spend.

And despite the potential cost savings, the study found that nearly two-thirds of prescriptions initially filled by patients in Medicare were for brand named medications. 

Overall, the federal government and beneficiaries through their monthly premiums will spend about 47 billion dollars on the Medicare drug benefit this year. The study's publisher is a drug benefit manager that handles prescriptions for about 20 percent of Americans.

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