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Senate Panel Examines Ways to Increase Generic Drug Use, Calls for Investigation
The Senate Special Committee on Aging released a report focusing on ways to increase the use of generic drugs within the Medicare Part D program, and it’s calling on a government watchdog to examine the cause of recent price increases for certain generic drugs.
The report outlines a series of policy recommendations including providing incentives to prescription drug plan sponsors who increase generics use, increasing education of beneficiaries and health professionals on the safety, effectiveness and cost benefits of generic medications and improving investigations of questionable pharmacy billing practices thwarting efforts to incentivize generics
On average, a the retail price of a generic drug is 75 percent lower than the retail price of a brand name drug, according to data issued by the committee. A 2010 Congressional Budget Office report estimated the use of generic drugs in the Part D program saved beneficiaries and taxpayers approximately $33 billion in just one year.
The report also looked at medication therapy management, saying educating seniors about the importance of adhering to their medication regimen also could play an important role in reducing overall health care costs. Thirty-three to 69 percent of all medication-related hospital admissions are due to non-adherence, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The cost of medication non-adherence exceeded $290 billion in 2009.
The committee is requesting the Government Accountability Office to examine recent price increases for some generic drugs like the heart medication digoxin, which has been on the market for years. These recent spike increases also have attracted the attention of Senate Health subcommittees on primary health and aging as well as the Justice Department.
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