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Generic Drug Utilization On The Rise

Recently released data indicate that more Americans are cutting their prescription drug costs by switching to generic medications//. New data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) find that generic use is especially high among those in the new Medicare drug benefit, with generics accounting for nearly 60 percent (59.6 percent) of the drugs dispensed to people in Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) and Medicare Advantage (MA) plans through the third quarter of 2006.

Generic medications are as effective as their brand-name counterparts and offer significant savings. In addition, for enrollees in the Medicare drug benefit concerned about the coverage gap, generics can lower one's costs and thus delay reaching the gap or help avoid it altogether.

According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), generic dispensing has increased among private third-party payers growing by 9 percent over the past year - from 48.4 percent in 2005 to 52.6 percent in 2006. The most recent CMS data demonstrate that generic use among those enrolled in the Medicare drug benefit is 13 percent higher than the private third-party demonstrating that the Part D program is delivering savings well above the national average to beneficiaries and the government alike.

The new Medicare data mark the third consecutive quarter of growth in generic utilization among those in the Medicare prescription drug benefit, indicating that beneficiary choice and broad formularies are yielding even greater savings as the program has progressed.

According to CMS Acting Administrator Leslie V. Norwalk, "Generics are as effective as more expensive brand-name drugs in treating chronic conditions and other health-care problems. That is why a growing number in Medicare and elsewhere are asking their doctors and pharmacists about this alternative. With tools such as the Medicare Plan Finder and the 'Medicare and You' handbook, CMS is
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