AAM: Generics saved $253B in 2016, $1.7T in past decade
WASHINGTON — Generics continue to play a key role in the healthcare system, according to the the Association for Accessible Medicines’ recently released ninth annual Generic Access and Savings in the U.S. report, compiled by the QuintilesIMS Institute for the AAM (formerly the Generic Pharmaceutical Association). The report highlights that generic drugs saved the healthcare system $253 billion in 201, bringing 10-year savings to $1.67 trillion.
The report also highlights that Medicare saved roughly $1,883 per enrollee ($77 billion and Medicaid saved $37.9 billion, or $512 per enrollee, as a result of using generics. On a state-by-state business, the therapeutic categories that saw the most savings were mental health, with $44 billion in savings; hypertension, which saved $29 billion; and cholesterol, which saw $28 billion in savings.
The costs savings of generics — which made up 89% of dispensed U.S. prescriptions in 2016 but only 26% of total drug costs — as well as biosimilars, the AAM said, act as a driver for access to treatment for patients.
“Access is a value we uphold at every opportunity,” GPhA president and CEO Chip Davis said. “All of our work, from promoting marketplace competition to advocating strategic enhancement of the Food and Drug Administration’s generic drug and biosimilar approval process, comes down to the promise of putting treatments within the reach of patients.”
The report also includes data from researchers who looked into abandonment behaviors of patients with regard to both branded and generic products, finding that new patient’s abandon branded drugs at a 266% higher rate than they do generic drugs. And while branded products make up 20% of approved claims, 40% of all abandoned claims are for new patients.
When patients abandon a branded medication, 14% switch to generic within 30 days of initial approval. The report noted that copays play a key role in abandonment, and highlighted that 90% of generic copays are less than $20, while only 39% of branded copays are lower than $20. More than their impact on patients having access to medication, the report noted that ensuring patient access to generics can also have positive effects on the industry.
“The savings created by generic copies free up resources to invest in new treatments — creating headroom for innovation — and resulting in significant progress against some of the most costly and challenging diseases,” the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said.
In order to continue the savings from generics, AAM in the report outlined it’s five-point plan — promoting access to quality generics, creating policies recognizing the different dynamics of branded and generics markets, ensuring an intellectual property framework that balances innovation and competition need, ending practices that delay generics development, and the increase in use of affordable generics among all patient populations.
“Affordable medicines are inherently more accessible,” David said. “Every dollar saved at the pharmacy counter is a dollar that can be spent on life’s essentials and other pursuits — or put away for future use.”
To read the full report, click here.
Teva launches Pataday generic
JERUSALEM — Teva on Friday announced the U.S. launch of its generic Pataday (olopatadine hydrochloride ophthalmic solution, 0.2%). The solution is a mast cell stabilizer indicated to treat ocular itching associated with allergic conjunctivitis.
“Olopatadine hydrochloride ophthalmic solution 0.2% is an important treatment for our patients and a key addition to our generics product portfolio,” Teva president and CEO global generic medicines Dipankar Bhattacharjee said. “This launch marks another successful first-to-file product for Teva, bringing the only generic version of this product on the market.”
Pataday had U.S. sales of approximately $303 million, according to data from QuintilesIMS for the 12 months ended March 2017.
Automation key to pharmacy’s reinvention
For decades, chain and independent retail pharmacy has been defined by its unyielding pursuit of professional recognition, fair reimbursement and full status as a member of the healthcare provider team. The industry has made huge strides toward that goal, thanks to massive investments in pharmacy technology and automation, which have enabled a shift in workflow, giving pharmacists the data and decision-making tools to support patient interventions and connect more seamlessly with the broader health network.
“Automation has led to the ability for us to reinvent ourselves as a profession, and we need to take the challenge,” said Marilyn Stebbins, a pharmacy professor and vice chair of clinical innovation at the University of California, San Francisco.
Managing and sharing data is a HIT
Health information technology and connectivity have been critical to pharmacy’s transformation. The industry’s quest to achieve full healthcare provider status for pharmacists hinges on pharmacy’s ability to capture, manage and share up-to-date patient health records in real-time with other members of the healthcare provider team.
This ability to manage and share data has been critical for CVS Health, said company president and CEO Larry Merlo. “… What really sets [us] apart is our ability, largely through technology, to integrate pharmacy care, from the payer to the provider to the patient. With our truly integrated assets, we have a full view of each patient and a single patient record for prescriptions and care regardless of the CVS Health channel used.”
According to Jocelyn Konrad, EVP pharmacy at Rite Aid, it’s critical that the profession and the industry it serves make every interaction between patient and pharmacist “meaningful, and customize those interventions based on the needs of the patient.” “The challenge is to get tools in the hands of the healthcare provider in real-time, to get the information at their fingertips to really personalize the experience,” said Brandon Worth, senior director of health-and-wellness innovations and systems for Walmart.
Relying on robots and central fill
Pharmacy retailers are investing big sums on the hardware and software needed to reduce pharmacy workloads and dispensing costs. Shifting more of the workload to robots and large-scale, automated central-fill pharmacies will lower average dispensing costs and allow pharmacists to engage with patients “at the top of their license.”
“The biggest concern we hear from retailers is the ever-shrinking margin on third-party prescriptions,” said Doyle Jensen, EVP of global business development for Innovation. “It’s getting to the point where … they’re going to have to stop taking certain plans because they’re just not economically viable. That’s why centralization has made so much sense; they can literally save $2 to $7 off the production cost of every single script they process centrally.”
To that end, said Rite Aid chairman and CEO John Standley, “we developed central-fill technology to facilitate the automated picking, packaging and labeling of prescriptions in a central-filling location. We also have developed workload-sharing technology within our stores, whereby stores within a close proximity can shift filling volume to stores with excess capacity. The efficiency of these processes allows our pharmacists to spend more time consulting with and answering our customers’ questions and concerns ….” (For a more in-depth look at recent product developments from Innovation, QS/1, VoicePort, ScriptPro and RxSafe, click here.)
Digital tools for personal service
In line with consumers’ heavy reliance on mobile devices, retailers also are spending heavily to extend their mobile reach. “We’ve made significant investments in the customer experience over the last two years …,” said Shane Sampson, chief marketing and merchandising officer for Albertsons. “E-commerce, digital and social media channels hold unlimited potential for delivering the kind of personalized service our customers want.”
Telehealth and telepharmacy also are getting increased attention as stakeholders begin to embrace the concept. “These technologies have the potential to increase consumer satisfaction, improve medication adherence and help consumers track and monitor their health,” Deloitte noted in its 2016 Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers.
“I believe telepharmacy will become the system that conveys this information in an affordable and safe way. It will become a platform that enables pharmacies to make the transformation from a product industry to a knowledge industry,” said ScriptPro president and CEO Mike Coughlin.
For pharmacy operators to survive in the new world of interconnected health care and empowered consumers, investing in technological upgrades is a necessity, not an option, pharmacy leaders said.