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2008 Sees Significant Rise in Prescription Abandonment and Uptake of Generics

New Data Show U.S. Rx Abandonment Rate Up 34 Percent Since 2006; Generics Led Brands By a Billion Prescriptions in 2008

BRIDGEWATER, N.J., April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading provider of information and business intelligence for students, professionals and institutions in medicine, nursing, allied health, pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry, today released its annual analysis of the U.S. pharmaceutical market that shows an increased rate of prescription abandonment among consumers. A prescription is defined as abandoned when a patient submits a retail prescription to a pharmacy but never actually picks it up.

Looking at U.S. commercial plan claims for 2008, Wolters Kluwer Health found that prescription abandonment increased by 34 percent nationally compared to 2006 --- jumping from an average of 5.15 percent in 2006 to 6.8 percent in 2008. It also found that abandonment increased as the amount of the co-pay increased, especially for new prescriptions. For example, new prescriptions with co-pays of $100 or more carry an abandonment rate of just over 20 percent; while with co-pays of $10 or under, the abandonment is only 4 percent.

"Price sensitivity is clearly a factor as consumers decide to forego certain prescriptions altogether, including some for chronic conditions," said Mark Spiers, President & CEO, Wolters Kluwer Health, Pharma Solutions. "This disturbing trend may have serious health implications and seems poised to continue especially if the economy deteriorates further."

Two-Thirds of Prescriptions Filled to be Generic by End of Year

The Wolters Kluwer Health analysis, known as Pharma Insight, also shows that generic medications continue to make significant gains over brands by grabbing more than 60 percent of all U.S. prescriptions filled in 2008, and an even greater percentage of the subset of drugs that are taken orally. According to the data, there were 2.4 billion prescriptions filled for generic drugs and only 1.4 billion for brand-name medications --- an unprecedented spread of a billion prescriptions.

According to the data, U.S. prescriptions for generics and brands reached equilibrium in 2005 and then generics continued to build momentum each year thereafter increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12 percent since 2004. Conversely, branded drugs slowed pace to a negative 6 percent CAGR for the same period.

"We're close to the point, certainly by the end of 2009, where two-out-of-every-three prescriptions filled will be generic," continued Spiers. "These trends are going to become even more pronounced moving forward as there are many blockbusters in major therapeutic areas like cholesterol reducers due to come off patent in the coming three years. The volume of available generics will increase, and there are very few new 'blockbuster' drugs in the pipeline to replace them."

According to Spiers, many factors contribute to the steady growth of generic prescriptions in America, among the most prevalent: patient education, awareness and changing attitudes. "Patients are becoming far more comfortable with the concept of using a generic in place of a brand. This, in part, is due to patient education programs and enthusiasm forged by marketing vehicles such as $4 generic drug programs," said Spiers.

The data also suggest that the economy is playing an enormous role in patient decision-making. As third-party insurers set higher co-pays for brands, patients are reacting by forcibly choosing generic alternatives. Spiers suggests that the economic downturn is going to further drive this demand and further spur prescription abandonment. "Increased unemployment and high numbers of newly uninsured are encouraging patients to look for ways to cut costs," added Spiers. "Choosing a generic over a brand fits right into that mindset."

For more information about Wolters Kluwer Health, visit

About Wolters Kluwer Health

Wolters Kluwer Health (Philadelphia, PA) is a leading provider of information and business intelligence for students, professionals and institutions in medicine, nursing, allied health, pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry. Major brands include traditional publishers of medical and drug reference tools and textbooks, such as Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and Facts & Comparisons(R); electronic information providers, such as Ovid, UpToDate(R), Medi-Span(R) and ProVation(R) Medical; and pharmaceutical information providers such as Adis International and Source(R).

Wolters Kluwer Health is a division of Wolters Kluwer, a leading global information services and publishing company. The company provides products and services for professionals in the health, tax, accounting, corporate, financial services, legal, and regulatory sectors. Wolters Kluwer had 2008 annual revenues of euro 3.4 billion ($4.9 billion), employs approximately 20,000 people worldwide, and maintains operations in over 35 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices. Visit for information about our market positions, customers, brands, and organization.

About Source

Source(R) is a leading provider of market data and analytics for pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical manufacturers to make decisions and recommendations with confidence, as well as pursue market opportunities for their products. Source offers comprehensive patient and physician-level prescribing and usage data to provide manufacturers with a unique set of more actionable information than is otherwise available. Source is part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading provider of information and business intelligence for students, professionals and institutions in medicine, nursing, allied health, pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry.

    Contact: Tom Kivett
             Kivett & Company Communications
             (212) 727-2935

SOURCE Wolters Kluwer Health
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