Industry Trends

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)1 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act2 of 2010 may be the first steps in the process of federal healthcare reform, but many of the provisions of the PPACA represent further movement on a path that has been laid out over the past decade by policymakers in the public and the private sectors—the historical aim of increasing value in healthcare.

A report prepared by IMS Health for the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) and released in July 2010 shows that the utilization of generics substituted for brand-name products has been making great leaps since 2006.1 The report spans the decade from 2000 through 2009, comparing the rate of generic utilization in each of the past 10 years, and highlighting the exponential rate increase in the past 4 years (Table 1).1

Much attention is now focused on bundled payment as a promising mechanism of healthcare reform.

Results of a new study have shown that fewer than 50% of a sample of elderly hospitalized people think that generic drugs are as effective or as safe as brand-name medications.1 This is sure to add to the increasing clamour for more patient and physician education about generic equivalence and the cost benefits to the consumer, as well as to the health plan in utilizing these therapeutic options.


Since 2000, there have been approximately 822 compounds for the treatment of depression that are currently in various stages of development (Table 1).

In 2007, generic drugs accounted for an unprecedented 63% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States.1 This level of generic prescribing is significantly changed from less than a decade ago, when the generic drugs accounted for less than 40% of all prescriptions.2 What has caused this shift in generic utilization, and what are the ongoing and future opportunities and issues of concern for the various stakeholders—health plans, pharmacy benefit plan managers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and consumers?

Last month I discussed the unprecedented share of generic drugs in the total prescriptions that were dispensed in the United States in the past year. In 2004 and 2005, managed care organizations began to recognize the potential value of the very robust pipeline of generic products that were to be launched over the next 5 years. They recognized the significant impact this could have on their pharmacy cost and, ultimately, on the premium structure of the benefit. Therefore, managed care organizations have embraced the concept of generic drugs openly.

As was discussed in the first articles in this series (see AHDB, April, May 2008), generic medications are positively affecting trends in pharmacy spending and, ultimately, overall healthcare spending. Generic manufacturing and utilization have been increasing at a rapid pace.

Capitol Hill Watch | Senate Finance Committee Bans American Medical Association From Medicare Reform Bill Talks

The Senate Finance Committee has banned the American Medical Association (AMA) from discussions about an upcoming Medicare package that would stop a 10% cut to physician fees, according to a Democratic aide, CongressDaily reports. The cuts will go into effect on July 1 unless Congress intervenes (Johnson, CongressDaily, 2/15).

The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) released updated clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma on August 29, 2007.

These guidelines are the most comprehensive updates in almost a decade and include recommendations for childhood asthma (expanded section), new guidance on medications, patient education in settings beyond the physician's office, and advice for controlling environmental factors that can cause asthma symptoms.

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