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Blue MedicareRx (PDP)SM News
Here come 2012 generic drugs!

Are you at risk?If you’re taking prescription medications, you may be getting some good news shortly.

During the next 18 months, the cost of some of the most widely used prescription medicines is expected to drop significantly. This is because generic versions of seven of the world’s 20 best-selling drugs should be hitting the market, including the top two: cholesterol fighter Lipitor and blood thinner Plavix.

Generic medications can provide effective treatment alternatives while reducing costs sharply. For example, Lipitor retails for about $150 a month, but the generic version of Lipitor is now expected to cost around $10 a month for those with prescription drug coverage. Overall, generic drugs generally cost from 20 percent to 80 percent less than their brand-name equivalents.

As always, be sure to check with your doctor to see if any of these cost-effective generics for treating your condition will work for you.

Also coming are cheaper generic versions of other popular drugs for blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, depression and high triglycerides.

Major drugs that have just gone generic or are expected to do so soon include:

Brand-Name Drug

Used to Treat

Generic on Market

Lipitor

Cholesterol

November 2011

Clarinex

Hay fever and allergies

January 2012

Lexapro

Depression

March 2012

Provigil

Sleep problems

April 2012

Plavix

Blood clots (acts as a blood thinner)

May 2012

Diovan

High blood pressure

September 2012

During the next decade, nearly 120 brand-name prescription drugs will also join the list of medications that have generic versions. That’s welcome news because many older people, with or without insurance, aren’t filling all of their prescriptions now because of high costs, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The lower cost of generics is important because people who take their medications regularly often avoid costly complications and hospitalizations.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, generics are copies of brand-name drugs and are supposed to be the same as those brand-name drugs in dosage, form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. Generic drugs also provide important options that allow greater access to health care for many Americans.

While the new generics may be getting all the attention, there are others that you and your doctor may also want to consider. For example, three other popular cholesterol-lowering drugs – lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol) and simvastatin (Zocor) – are already available as generics. Another drug that recently went off patent, Protonix for severe heartburn, costs about $16 a month for the generic compared to around $170 for the brand name.

Generics have helped make the Medicare Part D prescription drug program successful. The use of generics by Part D prescription drug beneficiaries has gone from about 53 percent of all medications covered in 2006 to nearly 78 percent in 2010. Even more savings will be realized as the use of generics continues to be encouraged and the usage rate climbs higher.

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Rx for Your Health

From the desk of Richard G. Reynolds, MS, Pharm.D, Medicare Pharmacy Programs Manager

Be ‘prescription smart’ with your medications

1. Talk regularly with your doctor about the best course of treatment for your condition, including the new generic versions of the most widely used prescription drugs.

2. Work with your pharmacist to recognize potential side effects or drug interactions that could result from taking more than one medication, or from combining certain medicines, over-the-counter drugs, herbal remedies or vitamin supplements.

3. You are what you eat. Interactions among foods, supplements and prescription medication can have an influence on the success of drug treatment. In addition, unexpected side effects from a prescription drug or medication interactions can cause other conditions unrelated to the health problems they’re prescribed to treat.

 

   

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