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Doctors urge greater use of generic drugs
November 30, 2015, 5:31 pm

Lower-cost generic drugs are usually just as safe and effective as higher-priced ones, say doctors at the American College of Physicians (ACP). The ACP adds that wherever possible doctors should prescribe generic drugs so that it helps patients save money and might increase the odds that they will continue to take the medicines as directed.

According to the ACP, every year, about US$325 billion is spent on prescription medications in the United States. The group believes this amount could be significantly reduced if people used generic medications, which are just as effective as brand-name drugs.

To shed light on the issue, researchers with the ACP examined how frequently generic drugs are overlooked in favor of brand-name drugs. Among the findings by the investigators was that in the case of diabetes treatment, between 23 and 45 percent of prescriptions were for brand-name drugs, even though identical generics were available. The study revealed that patients could save $1.4 billion for diabetes alone by replacing brand-name drugs with generic versions.

The ACP pointed out that there are situations where the use of brand-name drugs is necessary, but the use of effective generic medications could help ensure that patients stick to their treatment plan. Using generics could help motivate patients concerned about out-of-pocket health care costs take their medication as directed by their doctor, said the ACP study. The study found that brand-name drug prescriptions are nearly twice as likely to be left in the pharmacy and never picked up compared to generic drugs.

According to the ACP, brand-name drugs may be chosen over generic medications if the safety or effectiveness of a generic drug is in question. But, most credible research suggests generics are as effective as their brand-name counterparts.

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