Generic Prescription Drugs Show Greater Use In Southeastern Pennsylvania

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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.

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"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.

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