Skip to Content

Express Scripts claims savings of $161 million on three new generic drugs

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, Oct. 31, 2002 -- Express Scripts, one of the nation's largest pharmacy benefit management firms, announced that it has saved clients and consumer-members $161.6 million by expanding use of three new generic drugs introduced within the last 14 months. The savings are from that same period.

The company says that for members this translates into lower co-payments, saving the people who used 799,000 of these medications in September 2002 an average of $9.73 on every prescription. A patient taking all three drugs on a maintenance basis could save about $350 a year in lower co-payments.

Use of generic medications has surged in 2002, after five years of relatively stable market share for generic drugs. The rise began in late 2001; by the summer of 2002 use of generics had risen to over 45 percent of total prescriptions.

The newest generic drugs fluoxetine (generic Prozac), metformin (generic Glucophage) and lisinopril (generic Zestril/Prinivil) are used to treat depression, diabetes and hypertension, respectively. Fluoxetine became available in August 2001, metformin in late January 2002 and lisinopril in July 2002.

Almost a quarter of the savings -- $37.4 million -- went to consumer- members in the form of lower co-payments, while Express Scripts saved $124.2 million for its clients (insurers, employers and other plan sponsors who provide pharmacy benefit coverage for consumers). On average, members saved $9.73 per prescription in co-payments and clients saved $23.35 per prescription in September 2002, the most recent month for which data is available.

"Achieving greater use of less expensive generic drugs is one of the most important and effective ways Express Scripts makes prescription drugs more affordable for our clients and their members," said Barrett Toan, Chairman and CEO of Express Scripts.

Utilization of fluoxetine instead of brand Prozac is producing the most dramatic per prescription savings: $16.56 in patients' co-payments and $53.82 for clients in September. Fluoxetine's market share within its therapeutic class has remained steady at about 19 percent throughout 2002. And, while the retail usual and customary cost (retail cash price) for fluoxetine has come down about 20 percent since its introduction, Express Scripts says its clients have experienced an overall price reduction of more than 50 percent during that same period.

With another frequently used new generic, metformin, patients saved $9.58 per prescription in co-payments, and clients saved $24.15 per prescription in September. Although metformin has been on the market for only about nine months, Express Scripts says it quickly achieved, and has sustained, a market share for the drug of approximately one-third in its therapeutic class.

Patients saved $6.82 per prescription in co-payments, and clients saved $9.71 per prescription in September, by using generic lisinopril rather than its branded predecessors.

Express Scripts says it has experienced an almost five percent increase in generic utilization up to the third quarter of this year. Of all prescription claims, overall generic utilization among Express Scripts members grew to 45.2 percent by the end of September, 2002.

By 2006, drug products representing about 27 percent of total 2001 drug spend for Express Scripts clients will lose patent protection.

"We're working very closely with clients to continue lowering pharmacy benefit costs through a variety of innovative generic initiatives," continued Toan. "We expect to see increasing generic use as the result of better financial incentives for clients and members, faster generic conversions through mail service and retail, and the fact that these new generics are therapy class leaders.

"The surge in generic drug market share shows that the competitive force of the market produced by the PBM model is effective in making prescription medications more affordable for American workers and families."

Source: Express Scripts

Posted: October 2002