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Generic drug use varies widely by state, study reveals

ST. LOUIS, MO, December 6, 2004 -- Generic drug use varies widely by state, according to a new Express Scripts study that measured per capita generic drug utilization in 2003, using a random sample of approximately 3 million pharmacy benefit plan members age 18 to 64.
The study revealed that Massachusetts had the highest generic dispensing rate, at 51%, followed by New Mexico and Oregon, with generic dispensing rates of approximately 50%. Eastern states, such as New Jersey and New York; and southern states, including Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi, used generics to fill fewer than 43% of all prescriptions. New Jersey used generics for fewer than 40% of all prescriptions.

Possible explanations for the variations in generic fill rates include variations in prescribing patterns, state regulations, differences in disease prevalence and varying use of drug benefit designs that encourage greater use of generics. A copy of the study is available at

By the end of 2008, branded pharmaceutical products accounting for more than $38 billion in sales last year are expected to lose patent protection. Taking advantage of generics can result in significant savings for plan sponsors and their members. Express Scripts statistics show that for every 1% increase in generic drug use, prescription benefit plan sponsors save nearly 1% off their cost for drugs in providing the benefit. Express Scripts' overall generic dispensing rate increased to 51% in the third quarter of 2004.

"Generic drugs are the key to managing the growing cost of prescription drugs, making it possible for plan sponsors to continue to provide an attractive prescription benefit for their members," says Brenda Motheral, vice president of Research and Trend Management, Express Scripts. Express Scripts offers plan sponsors numerous programs that promote the cost-saving opportunities associated with generic drugs, saving money for both plan sponsors and their members.

Source: Express Scripts

Posted: December 2004