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Generic Prescription Drugs Show Increasingly Greater Use in Southeastern Pennsylvania
Date:12/12/2007

Independence Blue Cross Study Indicates No Pay Copay Inspired Members to

More Strongly Embrace Generics

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Generic prescription drug use is on the rise and more and more people are learning about the effectiveness, safety and cost saving benefits of generics, according to the results of a fall 2007 study conducted by Independence Blue Cross (IBC). Three-quarters of the IBC members surveyed believe generic drugs are as safe and effective as their brand-name equivalents.

Of those surveyed members who asked their doctors during 2007 if a generic drug might be suitable for them, nearly half said they asked as a result of IBC's No Pay Copay. A year-long program that began January 1, 2007, No Pay Copay waives copays on generic drugs for IBC members who have the company's prescription drug plan. IBC introduced No Pay Copay to raise awareness and educate members about the safety and effectiveness of generic drugs, while helping members save money and improve their health. Increasing the use of generics is one way IBC can help stem the rising costs of health care. No Pay Copay ends December 31, 2007.

Since No Pay Copay began, IBC members have filled more than six million generic prescriptions. By the end of this year, members will have saved nearly $50 million in waived copays. During 2007, the use of generics among IBC members has increased more than six percentage points, from 52.1 percent to 58.3 percent. No Pay Copay was a key driver of this change, along with more generic drugs on the market and changes in the frequency and the way in which IBC communicates with members about the availability of these generics.

"We wanted to do something dramatic and innovative to help our members stay well and save money," said Joseph A. Frick, president and CEO of IBC. "We decided to waive copays on generics to raise our members' awareness of how safe and effective generics are as an alternative to brand drugs. Clearly, more of our members are choosing generic drugs as a sensible way to control their health care costs without sacrificing quality."

"Some members have gone so far as writing us personal notes to say that No Pay Copay helped their families afford needed medications in 2007 and that they will continue to save money by asking for generics," said Frick, adding that IBC offers a wide array of drug plans that make access to generics easy for members.

Generics typically cost up to 70 percent less than the comparable brand name drugs. The lower costs for generic drugs are generally associated with the lower marketing and development costs for those drugs.

The IBC survey was conducted by DSS Research, a leading national health care research and consulting firm headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. In September, DSS interviewed 805 adult IBC members in the five-county southeastern Pennsylvania area and the surrounding region who were eligible for IBC's No Pay Copay during 2007. The margin of error on the overall sample was +/- 3.5 percent.

Additional Survey Findings

Perception of Generics

No Pay Copay clearly improved members' understanding of and confidence in

generics:

- An encouraging 87 percent of surveyed members said they are likely to

ask for generics after No Pay Copay ends, demonstrating their confidence

in the safety and effectiveness of generics over brand name drugs.

- Forty-four percent of surveyed members said they would not have asked

for generics in the past but have begun to or will ask for generics

after learning more about them through No Pay Copay in 2007.

- More than 70 percent of those surveyed already had a favorable

impression of generics before No Pay Copay. Now, 45 percent claim they

have an even better impression of generics.

Generic Use in Members with Chronic Conditions

Those members who are taking medications for chronic conditions like

diabetes or asthma are significantly more likely to inquire about

generics. In fact, 54 percent of members with chronic conditions

indicated they were more likely to ask about generic drugs compared to

members needing prescriptions less often (54 percent versus 32 percent).

Financial Reasons to Switch

When the concept of financial savings for generics was raised in the

survey, one in four members said that they are motivated to switch to

generics when there is a cost savings to them of $20 or greater, between

the generic and the brand name prescription. Those with chronic conditions

also answered the most positively about No Pay Copay saving them money. A

sizeable 56 percent said No Pay Copay saved them from cutting back on

other important expenses. A whopping 94 percent said they know that

generics save consumers a significant amount of money overall.

Generic Drugs Benefit Everyone

Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they feel good that IBC is

proactively trying to keep health care costs under control with member

incentive programs like No Pay Copay.

After No Pay Copay ends, members will be able to continue saving money by choosing generic drugs, because they cost significantly less than brand name drugs. IBC's prescription drug plans always offer the lowest copay amount for generics.

Independence Blue Cross Encourages Everyone to Be Smart Health Care Consumers

IBC encourages every consumer to ask his or her doctor or pharmacist if there is a suitable generic alternative for any brand name drug prescribed. Even if a drug is not yet manufactured in generic form, there is often a so- called generic therapeutic alternative available that treats the same condition with a different chemical, and can offer the same results.

"A generic therapeutic alternative requires a new prescription," said Paul Urick, R Ph., vice president of FutureScripts(R), IBC's pharmacy benefit manager. "A doctor's medical guidance is the best source of information in this case." To help save money without sacrificing quality, Urick suggests consumers ask their doctors the following questions:

- If this drug is not yet made in generic form, is there a suitable

generic alternative that might work just as well in treating my

condition?

- Do you know when my drug will become available in generic form?

- Can I switch all my prescriptions to generic?

Urick says he expects to see continued increases in generic drug utilization over time, as more brand name drugs become available in generic form, more consumers ask for generics first, and more physicians help their patients save money by prescribing generic.

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 million people. For nearly 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals.

In 2006, Independence Blue Cross was nationally recognized by the Disease Management Association of America for Connections(TM), its outstanding program that improves the health and well-being of people with chronic illnesses. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

FutureScripts(R) is a pharmacy benefits management company headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa., that helps employers and health plans manage rising prescription drug costs without sacrificing quality coverage. FutureScripts handles more than 15 million drug claims annually through its national pharmacy network.


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SOURCE Independence Blue Cross
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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